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Lyme Disease (cont.)

Prevention

There are three approaches to preventing Lyme disease.

  • Avoidance


    • Try to stay out of woodlands and brush areas where the tick thrives, especially during the peak season of summer and early fall.


    • Wear garments that will create barriers to the tick attaching to the skin and biting.


    • Tuck your pant legs into your socks so ticks cannot easily crawl the short distance from the ground to just above the sock line, and wear light-colored clothing to better identify ticks.


    • The application of the insecticide DEET (low-concentration preparations are recommended) to clothing and skin (This should be limited in children to prevent absorption of too much DEET) has been found to decrease tick bites and the chance for Lyme infections.


  • Removal


    • Deer ticks need to remain attached to your skin for about 24-48 hours to transmit the Borrelia to your skin. Therefore, you should inspect all areas of your body after outdoor activity.


    • If you notice a bite, it is very important to watch for symptoms, which usually show up in about three weeks.


    • Ticks attach to areas that are warm and moist.


      • the groin


      • the armpits


      • the underside of a woman's breasts


      • the neck and hairline


    • If you see a tick, promptly remove it. This greatly reduces the likelihood of an infection.


    • If you have tweezers, grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible and gently lift it away, pulling gradually but firmly. If you don't have tweezers, pull the tick off by its body. Removal is more important than how you remove it.


    • Often, the complete mouth parts do not come out with the rest of the tick. Leaving these in will not increase the risk of disease transmission but may have implications in terms of local infection or foreign body reaction.


    • Disinfect the bite site thoroughly with alcohol or other skin antiseptic solution.


    • Use of gasoline, petroleum, and other organic solvents to suffocate ticks, as well as burning the tick with a match, should be avoided.


    • If the tick does not come off easily, twist the tweezers like a corkscrew while holding the tick and lift upward.


  • Antibiotic treatment


    • Treatment of tick bites within 72 hours of a bite with a single dose of doxycycline has been reported to prevent Lyme disease. This may be appropriate if you live in an endemic area and have removed an engorged tick or multiple ticks. You should discuss this with your doctor.
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Lyme disease is due to infection with the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi and the body's immune response to the infection.

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