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Check Your Health is a web-only feature being offered monthly by The Cheshire Herald. Each month, a professional from MidState Medical Center will offer advice on a different issue pertaining to health.
Lyme disease was first identified in 1975 in the Connecticut town of Lyme. It is a tick-borne infection, although not all ticks are carriers. Deer and mice are primarily responsible for passing the bacteria to ticks.
Lyme disease prevalence is highest between May and September. The following are ways to avoid contracting the disease:
*Wear protective clothing (long-sleeves and long-pants)
*Wear light-colored clothing to more easily spot ticks
*Check skin daily for ticks
*Remove ticks promptly
*Use insecticides in your backyard
*Keep brush cut short
*Apply insect repellant with 20-30% DEET
Ticks should be removed immediately using tweezers. Pull the tick upward without twisting to avoid leaving part of the tick in the skin. Wash the area with soap and water and apply an antibiotic cream. Call you primary care physician to report the tick bite.
Symptoms vary based upon how much time has passed since the tick bite. Contact your primary care physician if you are experiencing these symptoms:
*Days or weeks after the tick bite:
*Generally feeling ill
Weeks or months after the tick bite, if left untreated:
*Weakness of the face
Months or years after the tick bite, if left untreated:
*Nervous system impairment
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics as a preventative measure within 72 hours of the tick removal. If you have already been diagnosed with Lyme disease, antibiotics will also be prescribed, but the length of required treatment depends on the severity of symptoms and how long you have had the disease.
The good news is that Lyme disease is curable. It is imperative though that you see your healthcare provider as soon as possible following a tick bite to prevent further complications.
Alina Osnaga, MD
MidState Medical Group Primary Care Specialists