Are you planning a camping trip or a hike through the woods soon? Or, do you live in a wooded area where a “hike through the woods” involves stepping into your backyard? If either of these scenarios fits you, you need to be aware of the hidden threat among you – Lyme disease. What is Lyme disease? How is it spread? Is there any cure? These and other questions are answered below – let’s take a look . . .
Are you planning a camping trip or a hike through the woods soon? Or, do you live in a wooded area where a “hike through the woods” involves stepping into your backyard? If either of these scenarios fits you, you need to be aware of the hidden threat among you – Lyme disease.
What is Lyme disease? How is it spread? Is there any cure? These and other questions are answered below – let’s take a look . . .
Lyme Disease Defined
Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by spirochete, a type of bacteria that is carried by black-legged ticks (a.k.a. deer ticks), and Western black-legged ticks. When the ticks bite into the skin of their victims, the bacteria presents as a red, inflamed rash and can quickly get into the bloodstream and spread to the joints and nervous system. If Lyme disease is left untreated beyond that, arthritis and other permanent damage can result.
Who is at risk?
More than 150,000 cases of Lyme disease have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since 1982. People who live in the northeast and upper Midwest (closer to Canada) are more likely to catch Lyme disease because of their proximity to large populations of deer and white-footed mice, the two “hosts” that ticks live on and use for transportation.
Symptoms of Lyme disease include a tell-tale rash that appears one or two days after the tick bite that rapidly increases in size until it is anywhere from two inches to one and a half feet in diameter. The rash generally doesn’t itch, but it can be warm to the touch. In darker-skinned people or individuals with tanned skin, the rash may look more like a bruise. Also, intense fatigue, headaches, an achy neck, sore throat, a high fever, and tingling or numbness in the hands, feet and face are also common.
Luckily, Lyme disease is highly treatable within the first weeks of infection. See your health care professional at the first sign of a rash like the one described above. You will likely be prescribed oral antibiotics, such as amoxicillin or doxycycline, which will clear up your condition. If you’d rather go the all-natural route, consider supplementing your diet with omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in primrose and fish oils, to reduce inflammation. Before you take any supplements, discuss your options with your health care provider.
Prevention helps too!
If you’re exposed to environments where ticks thrive, make sure to check your body over carefully if you’ve spent some time outdoors. Believe me - growing up on a farm in Minnesota, checking for ticks after a romp through the grass was a given. And not only did we check ourselves for those nasty little suckers, we made sure to check the dogs too! By being vigilant in your inspection, you just may be able to catch that tick before it decides to have you for its afternoon snack!