HARTFORD -- More than 22,000 Connecticut residents are diagnosed with Lyme disease every year and that number could skyrocket this summer due to a more active tick season. Amber Butler, a Lead Research Associate with the Western Connecticut Health Network joined FOX 61 Good Day Connecticut with advice on avoiding the disease and treatment.
What are the symptoms of Lyme Disease?
- Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic red bulls eye skin rash called erythema migrans.
- Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks.
- Laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods.
- Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics.
- Untreated Lyme infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system:
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes on other areas of the body
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints.
- Nerve pain.
What should people do to protect themselves from Lyme Disease?
- Reducing exposure to ticks is the best defense against Lyme disease.
- Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
- Walk in the center of trails.
- Follow the BLAST message:
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within 2 hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
- (Look) Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
- Apply repellents that contain 20 to 30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours.
- Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth.
- Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may provide longer-lasting protection.
- Spray your yard to reduce the number of ticks in your yard
- (Treat your pets) Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs.
Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.