By: Sue Anganes
For most of us who have been cooped up all winter, spring is a welcome time to start spending a lot of time outdoors. Unfortunately, Lyme disease is prevalent in our New England area.
Lyme Disease is transmitted to humans through a tick bite. Two of my sons have become very ill from Lyme disease. Fortunately, they were treated with antibiotics soon after their initial infection and have had no lasting effects from the Lyme infection. However, Lyme disease can be devastating if it is not treated immediately and aggressively. I have friends and extended family members who suffer from chronic Lyme disease, who battle serious medical issues because their infection went unnoticed and untreated for a lengthy period of time.
Last month I discovered a tick on me a couple of days after doing some yard work. It appeared to have been attached to me for a while and the site of the bite was irritated. My physician treated me prophylactically with a one-time large dose of an antibiotic just in case the tick was carrying Lyme disease. I did not have any symptoms, but I was glad to have my doctor take the bite seriously. Since that first tick bite this spring, I have removed two other ticks from my skin soon after being bitten. It is so important to check yourself and your kids every time you come in from doing yard work or spending time in the woods. This year the ticks are out in full force.
The CDC has a a great website with information on preventing tick bites, as well as what to do if you discover you have been bitten: http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/
More general information about avoiding and treating tick bites can be found here in an article from Outside Magazine: http://tinyurl.com/bojv7cn
It is important to remember not to panic if you discover you’ve been bitten by a tick. Use common sense and seek medical attention if you notice a rash near the site or anywhere else on your body, if you develop muscle or joint pain, or if you experience flu-like symptoms. When treated in a timely manner, Lyme disease will not be a lifelong medical issue.