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Lyme Disease (cont.)

How Can People Prevent Lyme Disease?

There is currently no vaccine available to prevent Lyme disease; however, there are three approaches to preventing Lyme disease.

Tick 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 pant legs into socks so ticks cannot easily crawl the short distance from the ground to just above the sock line. 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 disease infections.

Tick Removal

  • Deer ticks need to remain attached to the skin for about 24-48 hours to transmit the Borrelia bacteria to the skin. Inspect all areas of the 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, such as
    • the groin,
    • the armpits,
    • the underside of a woman's breasts, and
    • the neck and hairline.
  • If you see a tick, promptly remove it (see previous section on When Should Seek Medical Care for Lyme Disease for instructions on tick removal). This greatly reduces the likelihood of an infection.
  • 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.

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 a doctor.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/19/2016

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