Lyme disease is most common in Mid-Atlantic states than California, yet it is a small danger facing Americans families this summer. The month of May was Lyme Disease Awareness Month, because May-July is the highest-risk season for this infection. This disease has been found in 56 out of 58 California counties, yet it got its name because it was first found in Lyme, Connecticut in the 1970s. Lyme disease can be obtained from a disease-carrying tick that has latched on to a dog.
According to the California Department of Public Health, Lyme Disease is “caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacteria called spirochete, which leads to Borrelia burgdorferi.” It affects many body systems by giving similar symptoms to the flu, but eventually these develop into severe chronic issues. The first sign of Lyme Disease infection can be a red expanding rash which occurs on the body within 30 days of being bitten by an infected tick possibly obtained through a dog, or human for that matter, because adult ticks feed on the blood of large mammals. The good news is that it is curable with antibiotics, especially when detected early, although there have been reported instances where the disease has become incurable when it was not caught early on.
When hiking or walking on outdoor trails this summer, wearing light-colored clothing makes ticks may be easily detectable. Also, staying on the trail and avoiding branches or trees highly decreases the likelihood of the attachment of ticks. Covering the legs to protect against other small but dangerous creatures, as well as never forgetting bug repellent that is also effective on ticks, are added precautions that are well worthwhile. Most importantly; before returning to the car, thoroughly checking beloved dogs for ticks so as to not obtain or invite these with arms wide open is key. In order to deliver the disease, ticks need to be attached at least 24 hours. When finding a tick on the surface of the skin, using tweezers for removing it as closely to the skin as possible and disinfecting the area will be the last barrier. This disease can not be obtained directly from a dog or another person, only from disease-carrying ticks.
The risk of encountering infected ticks is small, yet it is important to know that ticks prefer cool, moist areas with short grasses. Dog owners know pooches love the same habitats, which is why it is important to not to obtain Lyme Disease-carrying ticks from dogs after a summer outdoor walk. Lyme Disease does not discriminate, and there are no statistics that show a higher incidence among a particular demographic. Pregnant women should be concerned about this disease, because it can easily be passed down to children in-utero. Knowing what to avoid reduces the danger of encountering ticks. It is important for pets to get cleaned as well as individuals, and it is important to watch for any abnormalities in the body or responses to possible infection. The best way to prevent or quickly address an attack is by remaining vigilant. Knowledge about Lyme Disease and ticks is not too widely known, so it is good to share this information with outdoor enthusiasts, co-workers and friends.
By Olivia Uribe-Mutal
Edited By Chanel van der Woodsen
IndyStar – More ticks in Indiana could mean more Lyme Disease
California Department of Public Health – Lyme Disease
HuffPost – 9 Things You Should Know About Lyme Disease The Tick-Borne Disease
Image Courtesy of Robert Szlivka’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License