According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s estimated that around 35,000 cases of Lyme disease occur every year in the United States alone and in recent years, awareness surrounding the disease has increased as Justin Bieber, Ben Stiller, and a number of other well known names spoke out about their Lyme disease experience .
Fatigue, night sweats, and the potential future complications of the disease are likely enough of a reason to want to know more about how to prevent Lyme disease. And, while there is currently no vaccine available for the disease, there are a number of reliable steps that can be taken towards reducing your risk of contracting the disease and avoiding any long-term complications such as being aware of ticks and using the right repellent.
See also: The Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease
Can Lyme disease be stopped?
As the most common vector-borne disease in the United States, Lyme disease affects thousands of people per year - particularly those who enjoy the great outdoors and spend time in grassy, woodland areas.
According to Mayo Clinic, one of the best ways to avoid Lyme disease is to avoid these bushy, long grass areas where deer ticks tend to live but if this isn’t an option, there are a number of other steps that can be taken, including:
- Wearing appropriate clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants tucked into socks and even a hat and gloves. Light colored clothing is often advised as it can make spotting ticks that bit easier.
- Using the correct insect repellent, a repellent with a 20% or higher concentration of DEET is usually recommended.
- Check yourself for ticks, particularly after spending time in wooded or grassy areas. Ticks are known to be pretty small (the size of a pin) so it’s important to search carefully.
- Check your pets for ticks to make sure they don’t bring any home in their fur.
How do you prevent Lyme disease after a tick bite?
Only a minor number of deer ticks can actually lead to Lyme disease. As a matter of fact, experts suggest that the bacteria from the tick bite (Borrelia burgdorferi), typically enters the skin and make its way through the bloodstream after being attached to the skin for 24-48 hours (or sometimes longer). This means that if you find a tick on your skin, removing it promptly and properly can help prevent Lyme disease .
There are a number of tick removal devices that can be purchased but if you have been bitten, and don’t have access to a tick remover, tweezers will do the trick. To remove the tick, gently grip it as close to the skin as possibly with the tweezers and pull upward to remove the tick. Once removed, be sure to clean the area where you were bitten and dispose of the tick by putting it in alcohol or flushing it down the toilet.
What are the chances of getting Lyme disease from a tick bite?
A persons chances of getting Lyme disease after being bitten by a tick bite are completely dependent on the type of tick, where you were bitten and how long it’s been attached to the skin, states the CDC .
For context, there are a number of different types of tick bites people can acquire in the United States, but it’s only the blacklegged tick that can transmit the virus that causes Lyme disease. This is why it’s so important to remove the tick as soon as possible, regularly check your body if you are frequently in tick infested areas and to get checked if suspect you have been bitten.
How do you know if you have Lyme disease?
If you have been bitten by a deer tick one of the most reliable ways to know whether or not you have Lyme disease is to get tested. This test can be done with your healthcare provider.
If you begin to experience flu-like symptoms, a fever or the infamous ‘bulls-eye rash’, otherwise referred to as erythema migrans, a few days after you have been bitten or even after you have had the tick removed, it’s important to seek advice, diagnosis and treatment if needed.
Some of the signs of late stage Lyme disease that are also worth keeping an eye out for include short-term memory loss, numbness, joint pain and dizziness.
You should get tested for Lyme disease if you have been bitten by a tick. You should especially take a Lyme disease test if the tick went undetected for over 24 hours, as there is a greater likelihood of contracting Lyme disease in these instances. If you notice Erythema migrans, ensure that you seek out testing immediately. Always bear the early symptoms in mind following significant periods spent in grassy or woodland areas.
If your symptoms are severe, go straight to your doctor.