The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 476,000 people across the country contract Lyme disease each year. The Northeast has had some of the highest incidences of Lyme in the U.S. in recent years, and that trend is likely to continue as tick season begins earlier and earlier due to warmer winters.
Lyme disease is spread by the bite of the blacklegged tick, commonly known as deer ticks. Many people who contract Lyme disease never see a tick, a tick bite, or the “bulls-eye” rash most commonly associated with the disease. They may just feel the symptoms of Lyme disease. Left undiagnosed and untreated, Lyme disease can be debilitating or deadly. Symptoms can mimic other conditions such as: flu, mono, chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia. For this reason, Lyme disease cannot be diagnosed on clinical symptoms alone – laboratory testing is needed to confirm a case of Lyme disease.
ClearChoiceMD Urgent Care centers now offer The Quidel rapid Lyme test to detect Lyme disease. The test is fast and easy. If you are experiencing symptoms of Lyme disease, visit your nearest CCMD center. A healthcare professional will collect a drop of blood from a simple finger prick. Test results will be back in less than 15 minutes. If you test positive, a second test will be required to confirm the result.
Preventing Tick Bites
Ticks should not prevent you from enjoying the great outdoors, but tick bites should be taken seriously. If you are bitten, remove the tick promptly using tweezers. Removing the tick within 36 hours of attachment may prevent Lyme disease, though other tick-borne diseases may be transmitted in less time.
Watch for signs and symptoms of illness for 30 days after a tick bite. If you experience a rash, fever, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or joint pain, you should see your doctor or visit your local ClearChoiceMD Urgent Care Center to get checked. Our centers offer comprehensive services, including tick removal and Lyme disease testing and treatment. Treatment for Lyme disease is most effective when started early.
Reducing exposure to ticks is the best way to prevent a tick-borne illness. The following tips can help keep you and your family safe.
- Avoid tick habitats: If possible, stay out of areas known to be infested by ticks. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas close to the ground – even in your own yard or neighborhood. Walk in the center of the trail when hiking to avoid brush. Ticks often cling to tall grass and low shrubs and will grab onto you when you pass by.
- Clothing choices: Wear light-colored clothing so ticks can be more easily spotted. Wear long sleeves and long pants to cover as much exposed skin as possible. Tuck your pants into your socks before going into wooded or grassy areas. When you go back inside, run your clothes through the dryer. Ten minutes on high heat is sufficient to kill ticks on dry clothing, but one hour is recommended for damp or wet clothing.
- Use insect repellents and treatments: To repel ticks from skin, the CDC recommends using an EPA-registered repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. Treat all clothing, boots, and gear with 0.5% permethrin.
- Perform daily tick checks: Shower when you go inside to wash off any unattached ticks, then thoroughly check your entire body after you dry off. Ticks could be anywhere on the body, but they like warm areas like behind the knees, ears, groin, belly button, and the back and neck. Don’t forget to check your pets, as they can also bring ticks into your home. When examining a pet, be sure to check within the fur, close to the skin.
- Make your yard less appealing to ticks: Rake leaves and clear tall grass and brush. Use wood chips or gravel to separate lawns from wooded areas. Keep swingsets, play areas, and patios away from shrubs and bushes and place them in direct sunlight, if possible. Treat your lawn with a tick control solution. Remove plants that attract deer and fence in your yard to keep them out.