Thursday, February 24, 2011

Beautiful Weather Inspires Thoughts of ... Ticks

The weather has many of us thinking longingly of spring. It's only February, but we've seen enough sunshine lately to make us impatient to have winter behind us.

Spring brings many pleasures, but it's also the time of year that we have to start being aware of Lyme disease-carrying ticks. The prevalence of Lyme disease grows every year, and its effects can be long lasting. I came across a news story on a new study that might lend some new understanding to the disease and why it can become a chronic problem.

Click here to read the story: .

More About Lyme Disease

Deer ticks, when infected with Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, can spread Lyme disease to humans. The
number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease each year has more than doubled since the early
1990s. Fauquier County faces a particularly high incidence of Lyme disease, compared to neighboring counties. Since 2003, Fauquier’s average number of new cases each year has been significantly higher than the averages of neighboring Rappahannock County or the entire state of Virginia.

Help protect your family by reducing your exposure to ticks. Here’s how to beat these sesame seed-sized bugs:

  • Don’t be a good host to ticks, which love overgrown areas and layers of dead leaves. If you have a yard, keep it trimmed and free of leaves and brush.

  • If you live near a wooded area, create a buffer between your lawn and nearby trees with wood chips or gravel, which can help contain ticks.

  • Wear long sleeves and pants when you’re in the woods or areas with lots of undergrowth.
    Use an insect repellent with 20 to 30 percent DEET, especially during May, June and July, when ticks are most active. Spray exposed skin and clothes.

  • Talk with your vet about how to protect your pets.

  • Other advice when you’re outdoors: Check your skin for ticks before you head inside. If you find one, don’t panic. If a tick has been attached to your skin for fewer than 24 hours, you have only a small risk of developing Lyme disease.

  • To remove an attached tick, use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. See your doctor if you develop a fever, headache, fatigue or a red, ring-like rash after a tick bite. These could be early signs of infection. Lyme disease can affect the joints and nervous system if it isn’t treated with antibiotics.
Tam Ly, M.D., Fauquier Health infectious diseases specialist, says Lyme disease testing is available and may be administered if there is evidence of the disease. Call 540-316-5940 for an appointment.

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