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Now's the time to look at treatment and prevention of Lyme disease

Getting a tick can be easily prevented by wearing protective clothing.
Getting a tick can be easily prevented by wearing protective clothing.(WHSV)
Published: May. 15, 2018 at 12:08 PM EDT
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May is Lyme Disease Awareness month, and experts say now is the time to think about preventing the disease when possible and learning how to treat it if it's contracted.

The warm spring and summer months are not the only time ticks are out. Audrey Burnett, an associate professor for health sciences at James Madison University, said any time the temperature is above freezing, there's a chance you can get a tick.

Burnett said if you are going for a walk in the woods, you should wear long sleeves, pants, pull your socks up, and even wear a hat for protection. She said there is still a possibility a tick could get through your clothing, so always check when you return home. Burnett suggested checking your pets who go outside as well.

"You want to make sure that you're not allowing these ticks, you know, to kind of run rampant all over the house," she said. "So even though it does take time to take these steps, it's really important."

The only kind of tick that can transmit Lyme disease is a female deer tick because they can carry a type of bacteria that causes the disease. Burnett said it only takes 48 to 72 hours after a tick bite for the bacteria to get into the blood stream, potentially resulting in Lyme disease.

According to Burnett, symptoms come in two stages. The first stage has symptoms like fatigue, fever, headaches, joint pain or bone pain. It is important to see a doctor if you are experiencing those symptoms, because stage two is more severe.

"People might kind of discredit those symptoms," Burnett said, "so kind of understanding that if this does reach stage two, you tend to have more body wide pain, joint pain, arthritic types of pain."

Burnett said the disease is treated with antibiotics since it is a bacterial infection. She says they are mostly effective, but depending on the case, it can take a few different courses of antibiotics or different types. Severe cases can be treated intravenously. Antibiotics can help manage long-term symptoms as well.

Burnett said when removing a deer tick, make sure to use tweezers, do not use a match or lighter. She said it is a good idea to get a doctor to remove it if possible to make sure the head of the tick is all the way out.