Ok, so April has quite a few things attached to it (Prevent of cruelty to animals, Pet first aid awareness, etc.), but for today’s purposes, we’re preventing lyme disease! Or trying to. As this week – here in Central PA anyway – is the first week that’s had any hint of spring to it at all. Your dogs are likely itching to get outside and play, and unfortunately, so are the ticks.
So what is Lyme Disease anyway?
Lyme disease is a bacterial disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi (boar-ELL-ee-uh burg-dorf-ERR-eye). Within 1 to 2 weeks of being infected, people may have a “bull’s-eye” rash with fever, headache, and muscle or joint pain. Some people have Lyme disease and do not have any early symptoms. Other people have a fever and other “flu-like” symptoms without a rash.
After several days or weeks, the bacteria may spread throughout the body of an infected person. These people can get symptoms such as rashes in other parts of the body, pain that seems to move from joint to joint, and signs of inflammation of the heart or nerves. If the disease is not treated, a few patients can get additional symptoms, such as swelling and pain in major joints or mental changes, months after getting infected.
How can I protect myself from Lyme disease?
- Whenever possible, you should avoid entering areas that are likely to be infested with ticks, particularly in spring and summer when nymphal ticks feed.
- If you are in an area with ticks, you should wear light-colored clothing so that ticks can be spotted more easily and removed before becoming attached.
- If you are in an area with ticks, wear long-sleeved shirts, and tuck your pants into socks. You may also want to wear high rubber boots (since ticks are usually located close to the ground).
For more information on protecting yourself and your pets from Lyme disease, download our PVMA Lyme Disease fact sheet with more precautions and information. Learn more about Lyme disease, including answers to frequently asked questions, the natural history of Lyme disease and a narrated documentary at CDC’s Lyme disease website at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/lyme.