May Health Beat

“Karen’s Kolumn” is researched and written by Public Health Nurse Karen Dolley. We appreciate her support and willingness to share!

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Every Maine County reported Lyme Disease in 2009. Lyme Disease Awareness Month is to raise public awareness of Lyme Disease and to raise awareness of the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of Lyme Disease.

Lyme Disease is an infectious disease caused by the tick borne bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. It is the most common tick borne disorder in the United States. In 2008 and 2009 there were over 900 confirmed cases of Lyme Disease. The Centers for Disease Control indicates that the actual incidence of Lyme Disease is 10 times the amount reported.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease include fever, fatigue, sleep problems, headache, and joint and muscle pain. Lyme Disease may cause a skin rash that starts as a small red mark and over 3-30 days enlarges to 2-10 inches or more, appearing like a “bulls eye rash”. 10-25% of cases have no rash at all. Meanwhile, the bacterium spreads through the blood stream. Arthritis can develop in late stage Lyme Disease.

Ticks prefer wooded and bushy areas with tall grass and leaf debris. They are often found along the edges of woodlands and near older stone walls.

CDC recommendations include taking extra precautions May-July when ticks are most active; ticks like to crawl under clothes-wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and long socks, tucking pant legs into socks and shirts into pants to help keep ticks outside of clothing; wear light-colored clothing to make ticks more visible; wear a hat; tie long hair back; wear shoes; perform tick checks after being outdoors-ticks are often found in armpits, the back of the knees, the nape of the neck, on the scalp, in the navel area, and in the groin area; inspect pets frequently; deer ticks cannot jump or fly and will die quickly in a sunny, dry environment so remove leaf litter and brush from lawns, keep the ground under bird feeders clean, stack wood neatly in a dry area, keep swing sets away from yard edges, stone walls, and trees; and do not feed deer on your property.

Use tick repellent with 20-30% DEET on adult clothes and skin. 10% DEET products can be used on children over 2 months of age. Always check with your pediatrician first.

If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme Disease is very small. Remove ticks before they become engorged with blood. Grasp the tick with tweezers as close to the skin as possible. With a steady motion pull the tick body away from your skin. Avoid crushing the tick. Do NOT use Vaseline, matches, or nail polish. After the tick is removed wash your skin with soap and water or alcohol. Notify your doctor in case of tick bite. A course of antibiotics is necessary to treat Lyme Disease.

For more information visit  Have a happy, tick free spring and summer!

Leave a comment

1 Comment

  1. Arden

     /  May 5, 2010

    As well as all the prevention methods you mention, I have to put in a plug for Tick Tubes – I have been using them around my yard for the last couple of years, and although it is hard to prove, I feel they are really helping to control the tick population. Check out the website: Also, they are as green as a pesticide can be!


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