Lyme Disease is the most common vector-borne illness in the U.S. In recent years the Capital District NY region has seen an increase in the number of people and animals infected with Lyme’s Disease. Most people in the Saratoga, Albany, Glens Falls, and surrounding areas probably know at least one person or pet that suffers from Lyme’s Disease. In order to protect your family and pets from this serious disease, it is important to know all the facts.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is an infection caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. The bacteria is commonly spread to people and animals by the bit of an infected tick. Lyme disease can affect the skin, joints, nervous system, and heart. When the disease is detected early it can usually be treated with oral antibiotics. If left untreated, Lyme can cause serious health problems.
What are the symptoms of Lyme Disease?
This disease is often hard to diagnose because many of its symptoms are seen in other illnesses. That being said, doctors in New York State are getting better and better at detecting the signs of Lyme thanks to new testing methods. Early symptoms of Lyme Disease can appear anywhere from 3 days to 30 days after getting bit by an infected tick. If left untreated symptoms progressively worsen causing serious health issues. Some symptoms of Lyme Disease include:
- Red rash around the tick bite
- Flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle/joint pain, and/or swollen glands
- If left untreated:
- Stiff neck
- Facial paralysis
- Neurological issues
- Heart problems such as an irregular heartbeat
- Eye inflammation
- Hair Loss
How is Lyme Disease spread?
Lyme disease in New York is spread by the deer tick (also known as the black legged tick). Blacklegged ticks are smaller than other tick species, making them harder to detect. Young ticks are about the size of a poppy seed, and adult ticks are the size of a sesame seed. You cannot get Lyme disease from another person or animal. Not all deer ticks carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Only ticks that have fed on an infected animal such as mice or other small mammals will carry the disease. Transmission does not occur unless a tick has been attached for at least 24-36 hours. This is why it is important to always check for ticks after you have been in tick-prone areas.
How can I prevent Lyme Disease?
Ticks are active when the weather stays above freezing. In New York this usually means from April through November. They prefer wooded areas and adjacent grasslands. Lawns and gardens at the edges of woods may also be home to ticks. While there is no way to completely protect yourself from being bitten by an infected tick, there are many steps you can take to reduce your risk:
- Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts while in wooded areas or areas with thick vegetation
- Wear light colored, tightly woven clothing so it is easier to spot ticks
- Stay on the center of trails and paths, and try to avoid brushing up against vegetation
- Check yourself, your children, and pets at least once per day for ticks. Pay special attention to the back of knees, behind the ears, the scalp, armpits, and back
- Use tick repellents on exposed skin and clothing
- Spray your yard and other tick-infested areas with tick repellent
What if I am bit by a tick?
If you do find a tick attached to your skin, it is best not to panic. Like mentioned above, not all ticks are infected with Lyme disease. Furthermore, your risk of contracting the disease is greatly reduced if the tick is removed within the first 36 hours. When removing the tick, you need to make sure the entire tick (including the head) is removed. The best way to remove a tick is to use a tick remover. If you don’t have one handy, tweezers will also work. Here is how to safely remove a tick:
- Grab the tick near its head
- Pull away gently to remove the whole tick without crushing it
- Place the tick in a small container of rubbing alcohol to kill it
- Clean the bite wound with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide
Once the tick has been successfully removed it is important to monitor the bit for the next 30 days. If a rash appears or you develop flu-like symptoms it is important to contact your doctor immediately.
Remember, when it comes to protecting you and your family against Lyme disease, prevention is the best method. For effective, all natural tick control contact the experts at OPC Pest Control. Tick prevention plans are very affordable, starting at only $395. Learn more about our tick control services here.