Lyme Disease on the Rise

The CDC is warning us about an uptick (pardon the pun) in Lyme Disease cases and with summer on the way, this season could prove worse then previous years. Traditionally a Northeastern U.S. problem, the black-legged tick (cause of the disease) has been found in new areas from Florida to Canada.

Symptoms can be similar to flu–chills, fever, fatigue, headache, and achiness. The appearance of a “bullseye” rash (smaller circle inside a larger one) on the skin is a dead giveaway.

Experts ascribe the increase in cases to proximity to deer (which carry the tick) and more people are living in areas with large populations of deer.

Some reports show around 30,000 cases a year but experts believe it may number up to ten times as much. May through July are the most active months for the ticks.

Most cases are still located in the Northeast, but the ticks have been seen in more than half of U.S. states.  The tick population has increase about 45% since 1999 according to the CDC.

Most cases are successfully treated with antibiotics, but the best bet is to avoid getting bitten in the first place.

If hiking in wooded areas, wear socks and long pants. Tick repellents with DEET, eucalyptus or lemon oil should be applied to skin and clothing.

Permethrin is another chemical that can be used on your clothes or camping gear.

A shower up to two hours after returning from the woods can help, especially with ticks that may be in your hair, but it’s also a good way to examine your body for ticks hitching a ride. Putting exposed clothes in a hot dryer can kill ticks too.