Since the weather has been so wonderful, I wanted to take a quick minute to talk about ticks. There are lots of different types of ticks out there, and not all of them carry worrisome infections. But Ixodes scapularis, or “deer ticks,” are common here in Maine, and they happen to carry the bacteria that cause Lyme Disease and Babesiosis. Though these infections can be treated with antibiotics, the best treatment is always prevention. There are 3 key steps that you can take to prevent yourself from getting bitten by a tick:
1. Use an inset repellent that has DEET. These help to repel ticks. Parents: be sure to apply these on your children and avoid their eyes, hands, and mouth.
2. Shower soon after you come indoors. This helps to wash off ticks that aren’t attached, and is a good opportunity for you to spot ticks that may be on you.
3. Check, check, check! I’ve been noticing that this time of year patients are coming in with the nymph form attached to them, which are very tiny! You really have to look carefully to spot these guys, so be sure to check out the image of Ixodes scapularis on wikipedia so you know what you’re looking for. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Deer_tick_Ixodes_scapularis.jpg
If you find an attached tick, grasp it with tweezers close to your skin, and pull straight out. The CDC has great tick removal instructions at: http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html
Please come see us if you notice:
• An expanding rash around your bite
• If you notice a rash that looks like this on your body, please come see us, even if you don’t remember being bitten: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bullseye_Lyme_Disease_Rash.jpg
• Fever or chills
• Joint or muscle pain
• Swollen lymph nodes on your body
• Or, if you just feel tired and lousy after being bitten.
All of the signs and symptoms above can be early warning signs of Lyme Disease. Early treatment can help to prevent some of the more serious complications of Lyme Disease.
For more information, you can check out some of the sources I used to help make this blog: