Lyme disease prevention
Katie Carpenter, Interactive Producer for Transforming Health | 06.10.13
"Ticks are nature's dirty needles." Those are the words of Linda Olley, a Registered Nurse from Harrisburg who has been living with the devastating affects of Lyme disease for 30 years. She went without a proper diagnosis and treatment for 20 years. Watch her powerful story here.
Olley emphasizes the importance of preventing tick bites because she knows firsthand how the disease can wreak havoc on many different systems of the body if it is not treated right away. "Be aware... and beware. The outside, as wonderful as it is, isn’t always our friend in terms of insects out there and the diseases they can transmit. So, be safe not sorry.”
Doug Fearn, the president of the Lyme Disease Association of Southeastern PA, says, "Unfortunately, a lot of people have gotten frightened of the outdoors, especially if they have kids. They don’t want them to be playing outside because they’re afraid of ticks and Lyme disease. They have good reason to be afraid. But, you can’t be paranoid of your environment. You miss so much.”
Fearn says that it is true that this is dangerous habitat that we live in here in Pennsylvania. But, that doesn’t mean we have to avoid it. It just means we have to take proper precautions. He says, "You wouldn’t go outside in winter without a coat, so why would you go out in the summer time when the ticks are out without taking the proper precautions? It’s not complicated. You just need to do something to prevent the ticks from getting on you.”
Fearn and Olley share tips for preventing tick bites and Lyme disease in the video below. And, explore the resources listed below the video to educate yourself more about prevention, symptoms, treatment and the prevalence of the disease and how it is treated.
Fearn explains that ticks are active all year round, but when the weather is warm, they’re more active and you are more likely to encounter them. "You’re more likely to be out in their environment in warmer months. So, this is the time of year when most people get bitten. It’s also the time of year when people are most likely to encounter the nymphal stage of the tick, which is very tiny, and you’re not likely to spot that tick on you unless you are really looking for it. And, you can’t feel them crawling on you because they’re just too small.”
Fearn says, “If it’s crawling on you, you’re probably safe, but if it’s actually attached to you and has started to drink your blood then you’re at risk.”
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is caused by the spiral shaped organism (spirochete), Borrelia burgodorferi.
- Can cause infection to multiple systems and organs of the body
- Multiple other bacterial, viral and protozoal co-infections may be transmitted by the bite of a single infected tick. Some of these infections include but are not limited to: Babesiosis, Bartonella, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Mycoplasma, Toxoplasmosis, Erlichiosis, Anaplasma
Important Facts and Statistics
- Pennsylvania is #1 in reported cases of Lyme disease in the nation
- Exists in 50 states and over 65 countries
- PA had close to 8,000 cases in 2011
- Over 100 people per day are contracting Lyme disease in Pennsylvania
- There are over 50 possible symptoms for Lyme disease crossing over all systems of the body-each person is special, unique and different
- Mimics many other diseases and called the latest greatest imitator
- MS, ALS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, chronic fatigue, Psychiatric conditions, cardiac abnormalities, ADD, or ADHD, Parkinson’s
A bullseye rash is diagnostic for Lyme disease.
- Early Lyme disease: 3-30 days after tick bite and identified by erythema migraines (EM) rash.
- Flu-like symptoms: stiff neck, swollen glands, high fever, sore throat, aches and pains
- A rash exists less than 50% of the time. It may be disseminated or a bull’s eye type rash when present
- Late Lyme disease: develops weeks- years later and results from a disseminated infection.
- Progression of disease symptoms may include but are not limited to: muscle and joint pain, migraine type headaches, sleep disorders, difficulty thinking, forgetfulness, nausea, blurred vision, hearing changes
- More severe progression: Cranial neuropathies, meningitis, meningoradiculitis, carditis, lymphadenopathy and arthralgia
Introduction to Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Diseases by Linda Olley, RN and International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society
Lyme Disease and associated diseases: The Basics
“Lyme Disease and associated tick-borne diseases: The Basics” 5th Edition 2007 by Douglas W. Fearn, contains essential information about Lyme and other tick-borne diseases needed by anyone beginning to learn about these infectious illnesses. It is written in a nontechnical question-and-answer format and was reviewed for accuracy by knowledgeable members of LDASEPA and by several prominent Lyme-literate physicians.
The booklet addresses such concerns as; “How does one get Lyme disease?” “How does one know if s/he has it?” “What treatment may be required?” and “What are some of the varied coinfections that may also be transmitted by ticks?” Another important feature of the booklet is an excellent symptom checklist, organized around various body systems.
“Lyme Disease: The Basics” is an excellent starting point for learning about the tick-borne illnesses that are increasingly prevalent here in Lyme-endemic Southeastern Pennsylvania as well as the rest of the United States.
Ticks and your Yard:
Keep ticks out by:
- Checking your pets
- minimizing desirable tick habitats
- rake leaves, don’t let piles stand
- mow often, trim edges( fences, buildings, sidewalks), don’t leave clipping piles
- control weeds
- remove dead plant material
- remove twigs or tree branches
- Chemical:products (containing Permethrin or Bifenthrin)
- Bayer advanced insect control, Ortho Home Defense, Spectracideii. Damminix Tick Tubesb.
- Organic/Natural (repel more than kill)i. Neem, Eucalyptus, lemongrass, camphor, wintergreen, soybean oil, cedar oil
Read more: How to get rid of Ticks in the Backyard| eHow.com
What to do if you are bitten by a tick:
- With fine-point tweezers or another tick removing device, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight out with steady, even pressure.
- Place the tick in a small plastic bag with blades of grass, leaf, or moist (not wet) piece of tissue
- Note the person’s name date, site of bite and estimated duration of attachment.
- Have a tick identified & tested by a lab, health department or veterinarian.
- Wash your hands, disinfect the tweezers & bite site.
- Educate yourself about tick-borne diseases and consult a doctor to see if treatment is warranted.
Reputable online resources for Lyme disease information:
- PA Lyme Resource Network
- Lyme Disease Association Southeastern PA
- Columbia Lyme & Tick Borne Diseases Research Center (LD research at Columbia University)
- Rhode Island Tick Encounter Resource Center
- LDA-Lyme Disease Association
- Legislative updates: a statewide Pennsylvania legislative coalition
- www.lymenet.org (general information, with many links, including support group listings)
- www.lymeinfo.net (general information)
- www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/lyme/index.htm (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- www.fda.gov( the food and drug administration; search for “Lyme”)
- www.medscape.com (this site requires a simple registration, but it is worth it to obtain excellent medical texts that you can give to your doctor if necessary. Search for “Lyme”)
Click here for more information.
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