With cases of the disease increasing, and still no vaccine available, here’s what you need to know…
•Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through a bite from an infected deer tick.
• Ticks are tiny creatures, active between April and September, found in grassy or wooded areas. They bite you, feed on your blood for three to five days, then drop off.
•Fewer than 50 per cent of people with Lyme develop the characteristic ‘bull’s-eye rash’. Some get flu-like symptoms a week after becoming infected. However, many people are asymptomatic, and develop symptoms months or years later.
• It can be hard to diagnose as the symptoms are shared with many other diseases. These include fatigue, neck stiffness or pain, jaw discomfort, muscle pain, joint aches — typically in the knees — swollen glands, memory loss, confusion, vision problems, digestive issues, headaches and fainting.
•Most cases can be treated successfully with a course of antibiotics. But if left untreated, it can lead to meningitis, facial paralysis and even heart failure.
• If you spot a tick, removeit immediately using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers. Pull it out slowly and steadily so you remove all of it, including the head.
•If you’re going outdoors in shady grassland or a densely wooded area, make sure your skin is covered. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved trousers and shirts to make ticks easier to spot. Once inside, check for ticks in hairy areas of your body, and wash your clothing.