Mild Winter Leads to Increased Tick Population and Risk of Lyme Disease
Written by Your 5News Team
Last updated on April 06, 2012 @ 7:38PM
Created on April 06, 2012 @ 6:27PM
After dodging a cold winter, health officials say folks should be on alert for a larger tick population.
Ticks can be dangerous because they carry lyme disease. Media outlets report symptoms include fever and an expanding red rash. Those symptoms can show within three to 30 days of a tick bite.
Lyme disease can lead to long term arthritis and neurological problems if not treated early with antibiotics. Ticks must be attached for at least 36 to 48 hours before lyme disease can be transmitted.
Doctors say you should thoroughly check yourself and your pet if you are going to areas with thick undergrowth. They also suggest wearing light colored clothing so ticks are more visible. If you find one, use tweezers to grab it by the head and remove it.
More Information: Lyme Disease Mayo Clinic
The signs and symptoms of Lyme disease are variable, usually involving more than one system. The skin, joints and nervous system are affected most often. In general, Lyme disease can cause:
Rash. A few days to a month before you have other symptoms, a small, red bump may appear at the site of the tick bite. Over the next few days, the redness expands, forming a rash in a bull's-eye pattern, with a red outer ring surrounding a clear area. The rash, called erythema migrans, is one of the hallmarks of Lyme disease. Some people develop several of these rashes, an indication of bacteria multiplying in the blood stream.
Flu-like symptoms. Fever, chills, fatigue, body aches and a headache may accompany the rash.
Migratory joint pain. If the infection is not treated, you may develop bouts of severe joint pain and swelling several weeks to months after you're infected. Your knees are especially likely to be affected, but the pain can shift from one joint to another.
Neurological problems. In some cases, inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain (meningitis), temporary paralysis of one side of your face (Bell's palsy), numbness or weakness in your limbs, and impaired muscle movement may occur weeks, months or even years after an untreated infection.
Less common signs and symptoms. Some people may experience heart problems — such as an irregular heartbeat — several weeks after infection, but this rarely lasts more than a few days or weeks. Eye inflammation, hepatitis and severe fatigue are possible as well.
When to see a doctor
If you know you've been bitten and experience signs and symptoms of Lyme disease — particularly if you live in an area where Lyme disease is prevalent — contact your doctor immediately. Treatment for Lyme disease is most effective if begun early. Only a minority of deer tick bites leads to Lyme disease. The longer the tick remains attached to your skin, the greater your risk of getting the disease.
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