Coloradans are known to love hiking, being outside and getting into the mountains. Colorado also has ticks, which can cause problems to our health, including Lyme disease. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness in these regions, Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of an infected black-legged tick, commonly known as a deer tick. You're more likely to get Lyme disease if you live or spend time in grassy and heavily wooded areas where ticks carrying Lyme disease thrive. It's important to know the signs and symptoms and take common-sense precautions in tick-infested areas. According to the Mayo Clinic the following signs and symptoms are often common with Lyme disease.
Signs and Symptoms:Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease can vary. They usually appear in stages, but the stages can overlap.
Stage 1: Early signs and symptomsA small, red bump, similar to the bump of a mosquito bite, often appears at the site of a tick bite, or often the actual tick will be in the place of the bite. A tick removal and red bum often resolves over a few days. This normal occurrence doesn't indicate Lyme disease. However, these signs and symptoms can occur within a month after you've been infected:
- Rash. From three to 30 days after an infected tick bite, an expanding red area might appear that sometimes clears in the center, forming a bull's-eye pattern. The rash (Erythema migrans) expands slowly over days and can spread to 12 inches (30 centimeters) across. It's typically not itchy or painful but might feel warm to the touch.
- Erythema migrans is one of the hallmarks of Lyme disease, although not everyone with Lyme disease develops the rash. Some people develop this rash at more than one place on their bodies.
- Other symptoms. Fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, headache, neck stiffness and swollen lymph nodes can accompany the rash.
Stage 2: Later signs and symptomsIf you do have Lyme disease and it goes untreated untreated, new signs and symptoms of Lyme infection might appear in the following weeks to months. These include:
- Erythema migrans. The rash may appear on other areas of your body.
- Joint pain. Bouts of severe joint pain and swelling are especially likely to affect your knees, but the pain can shift from one joint to another.
- Neurological problems. Weeks, months or even years after infection, you might develop inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain (meningitis), temporary paralysis of one side of your face (Bell's palsy), numbness or weakness in your limbs, and impaired muscle movement.
When to see your doctorIf you've been bitten by a tick and have symptoms Only a minority of tick bites leads to Lyme disease. The longer the tick remains attached to your skin, the greater your risk of getting the disease. Lyme infection is unlikely if the tick is attached for less than 36 to 48 hours. If you think you've been bitten and have signs and symptoms of Lyme disease — particularly if you live in an area where Lyme disease is prevalent — contact your doctor. Treatment for Lyme disease is more effective if begun early. See your doctor even if symptoms disappear Consult your doctor even if signs and symptoms disappear — the absence of symptoms doesn't mean the disease is gone. Untreated, Lyme disease can spread to other parts of your body for several months to years after infection, causing arthritis and nervous system problems. Ticks can also transmit other illnesses, such as babesiosis and Colorado tick fever.
Ticks and Lyme Disease This year, happens to be another record high tick season. If you’re not familiar with Ticks, ticks are pesky small arachnid insects, similar to mites. They live by feeding on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians. And, they also carry Lyme Disease. A recent CDC study found that cases of Lyme increased more than 80% in the last two years and that there are an estimated 300,000+ cases of Lyme infection in the U.S. each year. Lyme Disease is caused by bacteria transmitted to humans through a bite from an infected tick (black-legged or deer ticks). Lyme Disease can occur anywhere from 3 to 30 days after the bite and can have a wide-range of symptoms depending on the stage of the infection. In some cases, symptoms can appear months after the bite and are often undiagnosed due to the wide range of symptoms the disease can cause. With the influx of ticks this year, the following bullets outline how you can prevent tick bites, ultimately leading to lyme disease.
Before You Go Outdoors
- Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or even on animals. Spending time outside walking your dog, camping, gardening, or hunting could bring you in close contact with ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood.
- Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear and remain protective through several washings.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone.
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
- Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.
- Avoid Contact with Ticks
- Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
- Walk in the center of trails.
After You Come Indoors
- Check your clothing for ticks. Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing. Any ticks that are found should be removed. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks.
- Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and daypacks.
- Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tick-borne diseases. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.
- Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, including your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:
- Under the arms
- In and around the ears
- Inside belly button
- Back of the knees
- In and around the hair
- Between the legs
- Around the waist