Sunday, 10 June 2012

Preventing Tick Bites: A Cause For Lyme Disease

What is Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread through the bites of infectious ticks. The bacteria is called Borrelia burgdorferi but it does have various sub-types that cause the infection too. The first symptom is a rash that radiates out from the tick bite, if the disease is not treated with antibiotics then the patient can go on to develop painful joints, heart problems and nerve problems.

How Do Ticks Create Lyme Disease

Ticks are small insect-like creatures that feed on blood from animals, and, occasionally humans. When an infected tick bites it will stay attached for 24-48 hours depending on when its last feed was. During this time the bacteria that is in the tick's stomach will rise to its mouth and into the bite wound when it becomes engorged.

Preventing Tick Bites

There are certain things you can do to prevent getting bitten by a tick:
  • If possible, avoid areas where infected ticks live - particularly in the summer months. When out in the countryside, keep to paths and away from long grass or overgrown vegetation, as ticks crawl up long grass in their search for a feed.
  • If living or visiting a tick-prone area, when outdoors wear appropriate clothing. That is: long-sleeved shirts and long trousers tucked into socks. Light-coloured fabrics are useful, as it is easier to see ticks against a light background.
  • Inspect your entire body each day to check for ticks and remove any that are on the skin. Make sure that children's head and neck areas, including scalps, are properly checked.
  • Consider using a tick repellent spray, cream, etc, on your skin that contains N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET).
  • Check that ticks are not brought home on clothes.
  • Check that pets do not bring ticks into the home on their fur.
Do not:
  • Burn the tick off (for example, using lighted cigarette ends or match heads).
  • Apply petroleum jelly, alcohol, nail varnish remover, or other substances (as this may stimulate the tick to regurgitate potentially infected material into the skin, which may increase the risk of transmission of infection).
  • Use your fingers to pull the tick off, and don't squeeze the tick.
After removal, clean the skin with soap and water, or skin disinfectant, and wash hands.



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