In the U.S., more than 21,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported each year. In Germany, 15,000 to 20,000 cases are reported each year. Lyme disease is an infectious disease that is transmitted to humans or domestic animals by the bite of an infected tick. The bacteria is transmitted through the tick’s saliva while the tick is feeding. In order for transmission to take place, the infected tick must be attached for several hours. It can sometimes become severely debilitating, but is rarely, if ever, fatal. Common symptoms include a bull’s eye rash, fever, headache, fatigue, weakness and swollen lymph nodes. Lyme disease is treatable and is not contagious. If left untreated, it may lead to complications of the joints, nervous system, and the heart.
Below are tips that can help keep you, your family and your pets safe from Lyme disease.
Around your home: Control the tick population.
• Remove high grass, weeds, leaves, litter and undergrowth from around your home
• Keep your lawn mowed to a height of no more than three inches
• Eliminate accumulations of plants from around your home
• Keep wild animals from coming into your yard by ensuring garbage cans are tightly closed and by keeping any household pet food inside, and consider fencing the area around your home to prevent large animals, like deer, from entering your yard
• Pesticides that kill ticks can be applied to your yard if a large number of ticks are present. Consult with a pest management company before applying any pesticides yourself.
During outings (such as camping, hiking and picnicking):
• Wear outer clothing that covers your skin
• Wear closed toe shoes to keep feet from being exposed
• Apply Permethrin on clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear. Permethrin is a highly effective treatment that repels and kills ticks as well as other insects. One treatment can last through multiple washes.
Check yourself, children and pets for ticks often when you spend time outdoors.
If a tick is found it needs to be removed immediately by grasping the mouth parts of the tick as close to the skin as possible with fine tipped tweezers. Pull back slowly and steadily with firm force until the barbed mouthparts can be eased out of the skin.
After removal, wash the bite site and apply an antiseptic. Save the tick for future identification should you develop disease symptoms. Place it in a clean, dry jar (or other sturdy container) and keep it in the freezer.
You may discard the tick after about one month, as tick-borne diseases will generally display symptoms within this time period. Seek medical attention immediately if you develop any symptoms or generally feel sick after being bitten. By applying this information to your everyday life, you and your family will have a Lyme disease free summer.
For more information on Lyme disease or any other disease, go to www.cdc.gov or call Public Health at 479-2234.
(Courtesy of 86th Aerospace Medicine Squadron)