Lyme Disease: Small Parasite, Big Problem!

Being in the Caribbean, I don’t get to experience change in seasons. By US standards, “it’s summer all year long” for me. Even though that may sound amazing and perfect, I really miss having 4 seasons! I miss the fall season – tailgating at Clemson football games with family and friends, wearing big sweaters and scarves… You know what I mean! Back in the US, I know everyone is in the fall spirit. This means cooler weather and being able to go hiking (without sweating like crazy), taking long camping trips with friends, and spending time by the campfires. This also increases the risk for our pets – and us humans – to get bit by ticks in the woods and contract illness from them.

A few days ago, I was playing with the dogs outside and noticed that Remi had SEVERAL ticks buried into his neck and back. I was in shock because I had given him tick/flea medication when we first got him, but clearly it didn’t work. Not sure why. He has a plethora of other health issues so that could be a factor as well. Long story short, I kid you not – I pulled over 20 ticks out of his skin! They are disgusting creatures!

Lyme disease is a common tick-borne illness that is not only present in the US, but in many areas all over the world. It is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted to humans through the bite of a tick. If you happen to get bit by a tick, your first few symptoms can appear anywhere from 72-hours up to 30 days of being bitten. Some minor symptoms are fever, chills, fatigue, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes. Infected persons can also develop a rash called ‘erythema migrans’, which is usually warm to the touch. This rash will expand slowly over days at a time and can cover large spans of the body. Sometimes this rash can develop into a hallmark “bulls-eye” on the skin. If you develop any kind of rash, please see your doctor as soon as possible to get treatment. If you do not receive treatment, the infection can spread to other body systems (cardiovascular, nervous, etc.) and can cause additional health issues on these systems. Your doctor will test for Lyme disease if these primary symptoms are present.

If diagnosed with Lyme disease, it can be treated within a few weeks using the correct antibiotics. Be sure to take precautions before going into wooded areas, or areas that are known for having lots of ticks. Use insect repellant, wear long shirt and long pants, as well as close-toed shoes. Be sure to have someone examine you after you come back inside to make sure no ticks are present. Lyme disease is not the only infection that ticks can transmit – there are LOTS of other tick-borne illnesses. Stay safe this fall season and take precautions to protect yourself and your furry friends from ticks!

Resources: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/

 

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