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Ticks & Lyme Disease: How You Can Protect Yourself

It's tick season in Texas and these blood-sucking bugs are looking for ways to reproduce. Here's how you can stay safe and protect yourself from ticks and Lyme disease.

Tick season is fast approaching, which means these tiny parasitic arachnids will be gearing up for opportunities to attack.

During the spring and summer seasons, ticks are known to run rampant throughout Texas, looking for ways to reproduce. Found mostly outdoors in grass, trees, shrubs, and leaf piles, ticks require warm temperatures and high humidity to survive.

These blood-sucking creatures look for hosts to attach themselves too such as humans and animals. Once attached, they bite into the skin, draw blood, and then molt. Just one tick bite can cause an allergic reaction and lead to long-term health issues.

Lyme disease is caused by tick bites and can result in severe health problems if not treated. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there are typically between 50-275 human cases of Lyme disease reported in Texas annually.

Trusted ER Texoma Medical Director, Dr. Benjamin Blake, spoke with KTEN NBC and ABC news reporter Baylee Bates and revealed the most common indication of Lyme disease after a tick bite.

It’s important to know how to protect yourself from tick bites during the hot, humid seasons. Keep reading to learn more about Lyme Disease and how you can steer clear of the debilitating disease.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease was first identified in 1984 in Texas. Approximately, 476,000 Americans are diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease each year according to the CDC. So, what is Lyme disease and why is it so prevalent?

What is Lyme Disease?

“Lyme disease is an infection that gets into the bloodstream from a micro-organism attached to a tick; basically the tick has a parasite, and when the tick bites someone they spread the parasite to the person,” said Dr. Benjamin Blake, the medical director at Trusted ER Texoma.

Ticks can attach to any part of the human body but prefer warmer moist areas such as armpits, the scalp, and groin. According to the CDC, ticks need to be attached for 36 to 48 hours before they can transmit Lyme disease bacteria.

Once transmitted, the disease generally appears in stages. You may begin to develop early signs and symptoms of the disease which can vary. You may notice a small, red bump which appears at the site of the tick bite. If left untreated, new signs and symptoms of Lyme disease may develop and progress into severe consequences.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

Some of the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Body Aches
  • Headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Eye inflammation
  • Heart problems
  • Liver problems
  • Neurological problems

People who show early signs and symptoms of Lyme disease, often report experiencing a rash accompanied with flu-symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, and fatigue. The rash may appear generally from 3 to 30 days after the infected tick bite and may rapidly spread all over the body. It can extend to other parts of the body including the legs, joints, heart, and nervous system. The rash may be warm to touch but is typically not itchy or painful.

People who show later signs and symptoms of Lyme disease, often report experiencing severe muscle or join pain accompanied by heavy swelling. You may notice swelling in areas such as your knees or lymph nodes. If left untreated, Lyme disease can progress into serious neurological problems. The infection can cause meningitis, Bell’s palsy, paralysis, liver inflammation, eye inflammation, or even heart problems such as an irregular heartbeat.

Tick Bite Prevention

To prevent tick bites, it is generally recommended that you do the following things when outdoors:

  • Cover up

When outdoors, especially in wooded or grassy areas, be sure to wear long sleeves and long pants which cover your body to further protect you from tick bites.

  • Insect repellents and pesticides

Spraying pesticides and using insect repellents can limit ticks in your area. Opt for any insect repellent with a 20% or higher concentration of DEET to your skin.

  • Remove the tick asap

If you notice a tick on your skin, it’s important to remove the tick as soon as possible with tweezers. Grab the tick gently with tweezers near its head or mouth and remove it by flushing it down the toilet. Apply antiseptic to the bite area to clean it.  

Treatment for Lyme Disease

If you’ve been bitten by a tick and start to develop symptoms, schedule a visit with your primary care physician immediately. Your physician may perform a blood test, generally three or four weeks after the suspected contract to determine if the disease is present. Monitoring and treating your tick bite early are key in preventing Lyme disease.

“The biggest thing I think to remember is: If you have a tick bite, then you notice a very strange rash around that tick bite — it looks like a bullseye sign — that’s 70 to 80 percent of patients that develop Lyme disease will have that rash,” said Dr. Blake.

Keep in mind that most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics if detected early. Remember, the longer the tick remains attached, the greater your risk of developing Lyme disease.

How Can Trusted ER Help You?

If you’ve been bitten by a tick and begin showing signs and symptoms of Lyme disease, seek medical attention immediately. Remember, early treatment of Lyme disease is more effective than treating it late. You can receive emergency care at one of our Trusted ER locations near you.

At Trusted Medical, we are here for you and ready to treat any illness or injury. We have 8 locations where we provide the best-in-class healthcare to patients in the most comfortable environment with exceptional care.

We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Trusted ER is “Doing the right thing. Every patient. Every time.”