By: Stephanie Smith Cooney, Gatti Pharmacy Owner, Pharm. D.
With cases of Lyme Disease on the rise, we wanted to inform you all about the frequently asked questions regarding Lyme Disease, and how you can prevent it. The following FAQ is referenced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
1. What is Lyme Disease? Lyme Disease is a bacterial illness transmitted to humans by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks). Typical symptoms may be fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash sometimes called a bulls-eye rash.
2. How common is it in Pennsylvania? In 2016, there were more diagnosed cases of Lyme Disease in Pennsylvania than any other state. 30,000 cases are typically reported each year nationwide, but studies suggest that the actual number of cases could be 10 times that. Tickborne illnesses are on the rise, and Pennsylvania and the Northeast are a hot bed for ticks.
3. How quickly can Lyme Disease occur after a tick bite? In general, ticks can transmit Lyme disease if they’ve been attached for 36-48 hours.
4. How can you prevent Lyme Disease? May to June represent the most common time for ticks, so extra caution during these months is a good start, but year-round diligence is important. Keeping ticks off your body is best. But early detection of tick bites is critical as well. Because adult ticks are larger (size of an apple seed), they are more likely to be identified and found on the body. However, most cases of Lyme disease are caused by the immature ticks, or nymph ticks. Wildly enough, these little things are no larger than a pinhead and hard to see.
Wearing long sleeves and pants that are tucked in at the bottom, as well as sticking to the center of paths and avoiding long grass are some strategies. Also, light colored clothing will allow you to see the ticks more easily. Removing outside clothing and showering within two hours of coming inside is another useful strategy. The CDC recommends 20% DEET containing repellants on clothing and exposed skin or permethrin-coated clothing. The use of essential oils or natural products are also a popular way to repel ticks.
Aside from the above, if you’re outside, even in your own yard, it’s time to add a new routine to your day. TICK CHECKS. Get in the daily habit of checking yourself and your family for ticks. They can be found anywhere on the body, but often go to hard to search places like the groin, armpits, and scalp. Because the nymph ticks are so small, pay special attention to these areas, but don’t forget between the toes and everywhere else. Ticks often start lower on the body and move up to areas like the scalp over time. The faster you can find and remove these devils, the better.
5. What’s the best way to remove a tick? Stick with the tried and true removal method, removing the tick with a tick remover or tweezers. Grasp the tick firmly and as close to the skin as possible. With a steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from the skin. DO NOT use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish, or other products. These can irritate the tick and make it more likely to release the Lyme-causing bacteria from its mouth parts. Cleanse the area with an antiseptic after the tick has been removed.
With prevention and early detection, help to ensure that you and your loved ones don’t become infected with Lyme Disease. Happy Summer!
The Gatti Team
Information, tips and more from the Gatti Pharmacists and staff.