Preventing Lyme Disease

How to Remove a TickMost people have heard of Lyme disease and know it is caused by ticks, but for many people that is the extent of their knowledge. Knowing what Lyme disease is, how it happens, and what the symptoms are can help you take steps to prevent it and recognize the early symptoms if necessary.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is an illness caused by a bacteria named Borrelia Burgdorferi. Yes, a bacteria, not ticks, cause the disease. However, the bacteria is most often found in ticks, and can be transmitted to humans via a tick bite. As the tick is attached and feeding, the bacteria makes its way up from the gut of the tick, into its saliva, and eventually is transferred into the human host. Because of the types of ticks that carry the bacteria, those who live in the Northeast and upper Midwest are most at risk.

One of the things that makes Lyme disease so difficult to detect is that it has such a long potential incubation period. Symptoms can show up as soon as three days after the bite, or it can take as long as a month for even the first signs to show. One of the most common symptoms is a rash at the site of the bite, while others include fever, chills, headaches, swollen lymph nodes, heart palpitations, and short-term memory loss. In some cases, the disease can have long-term effects that take months or years to fully resolve. If you suspect you may have Lyme disease, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

How can Lyme Disease be Prevented?

A few common-sense measures can help you and your family reduce your risk of contracting Lyme disease. Insect repellants that specifically claim to work on ticks should be worn when outdoors, and avoiding high grass and wooded areas when possible can limit the risk of picking up ticks outside. However, these insects can be picked up almost anywhere, so it is important to do occasional checks of yourself and your children, with a focus on the ears, scalp, inside bends of elbows and knees, and belly button. Also be sure to check any clothing or other items you may have carried outside, as ticks can latch onto those items to bite you later on. If a tick is found that is already latched, it can be removed with fine-tipped tweezers and steady, firm pressure pulling straight up from the skin. Wash the bite area thoroughly with rubbing alcohol.

Making your yard less hospitable for ticks can also help prevent bites. Grass should be mowed regularly, trash should be removed from the yard, and trees and brush in the yard should be limited as much as possible, as ticks require shade to survive.

One of the most important ways to stop ticks from infiltrating your yard is with regular preventative pest control. A special pesticide called acaricide is used to reduce tick populations. Because of residential usage regulations and the dangers inherent with using these chemicals, it is always best to rely on professionals. A professional pest control company can ensure your yard is protected from a variety of pests, including the ticks that carry Lyme disease.

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