What you need to know about Lyme disease

What you need to know about Lyme disease

by Bianca Castro |

Getting bitten by an infected tick can be dangerous. Get in the habit of checking your family and pets for ticks after being outdoors

What causes it?

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial species called Borrelia burgdorferi that is only transmitted to humans when they are bitten by an infected tick. To infect its host, a tick typically must be attached to the skin for at least 36 hours.

What time of year is it most common?

Most cases of Lyme disease occur in late spring and early summer.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms of Lyme disease include a red, circular ‘bull’s-eye’ rash, often accompanied by muscle and joint aches. The rash can appear up to three months after the tick bite.

How is it diagnosed?

Lyme disease can be hard to diagnose as it has similar symptoms to other conditions and there’s not always an obvious rash. Two types of blood test are available to help confirm or rule out Lyme disease. But these tests are not always accurate in the early stages of the disease.

Can it be treated?

Most cases of Lyme disease are successfully treated with a few weeks of antibiotics.

How to stay safe

The best treatment for Lyme disease is prevention. Be cautious when walking in woods, avoiding bushy and grassy areas. Wear long trousers and long-sleeved shirts, and wear insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin.

After walking in wooded areas, thoroughly check the skin for ticks, paying particular attention to the scalp, armpits and groin. If you find a tick, carefully remove it with fine-tipped tweezers or a tick-remover tool.

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