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Lyme Disease (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care for Lyme Disease

Seek immediate medical attention if you live in or have visited an area where Lyme disease is common and you experience a flu-like illness or develop a red or target-like rash anytime from late spring to early fall. Prompt treatment at this stage reduces the risk of further symptoms of Lyme disease.

  • Remove any attached ticks by pulling them off you. Removing them promptly is more important than how you remove them. If you cannot remove an attached tick, see a doctor, who will remove it.
  • Following tick removal, you should see a doctor if any flu-like symptoms or rash develop within the next three weeks. If a rash develops, draw a line around it with ink that does not wash off (such as a Magic Marker or Sharpie) each day to see if it is growing.
  • Young children with fever and severe headache should see a doctor immediately, because these may be their only symptoms.
  • Outdoor workers and anyone whose hobbies or recreational activities place them in wooded or brush areas should be particularly aware of these symptoms because their environmental exposure increases contact with the deer tick and is a risk factor for contracting Lyme disease.

Lyme disease should be treated promptly. See a doctor or go to a hospital's emergency department immediately.

  • When the initial disease is not treated, your symptoms may go away, but additional late stage symptoms and complications of Lyme disease can occur months later.
  • When this happens, Lyme disease can affect the heart, muscles and joints, or the nervous system. Since these symptoms can occur with other diseases, be sure to tell a doctor about travel to areas with a high tick population or if you have any possible exposures to ticks (from pets, gardening, walking, or camping in wooded areas, etc.).

If you are pregnant and are bitten by a tick, see a doctor immediately. If you become infected with Lyme disease during pregnancy, the illness can infect the placenta and may result in stillbirth. Lyme disease is not transmitted through breast milk.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/17/2015

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