Lyme disease is a bacterial disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacteria is spread via ticks. When an infected tick hitches a ride on a dog or horse, then jumps to a human and bites them, the human can become infected with Lyme Disease.
Within 1 to 2 weeks of being infected, people may develop a rash that looks like a bull's eye and run a fever. They may also have headaches and muscle or joint pain. Other people have a fever and other flu-like symptoms without a rash. Some people who are infected do not show any early symptoms of the disease.
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.
To protect yourself from risk of exposure to Lyme disease, you should avoid areas that are likely to be infested with ticks, particularly during the spring and summer, whenever possible. If you are going into an area where ticks are, wear light colored clothes so you can easily spot and remove a tick before it becomes attached.
Since ticks are close to the ground, tuck your pants into your socks and wear high rubber boots to minimize exposure. It is also a good idea to wear long sleeved shirts.
If the weather is hot, applying insect repellent containing DEET and Permethrin should help reduce risk of tick attachment. Follow the directions and apply accordingly.
If you have been in an area where ticks are, check for and remove them promptly. Transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi is unlikely to occur before 36 hours after the tick attaches itself, so do not waste time checking for ticks. Any embedded ticks should be removed by using fine-tipped tweezers and the area cleansed with an antiseptic.
Reduce the number of ticks around your home and yard by removing leaf litter and bush/wood piles around your home and yard. This is a good idea to keep ticks from getting on your pets!