Parish Nurse Corner-June-July

Jeremiah 8:17 – “For behold, I will send serpents among you…And they shall bite you, says the Lord.”

Lyme Disease / Tiny Danger

Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection that occurs from being bitten by an infected blacklegged deer tick.  It is the most common tick-borne infectious disease in the USA.  While the infection can be treated with an antibiotic, it can often go undiagnosed before serious and debilitating side effects occur.  Cases of Lyme Disease are heavily concentrated in the Northeast and Upper Midwest of America.  However, 14 states account for more than 96% of reported cases.

Many people who contract the disease do not even notice that they have been bitten.  According to the CDC, the first symptom of the infection in more than 70% of the cases is a rash at the site of the bite; after a few weeks, it will grow and take a bull’s eye shape.  It is associated with nausea and vomiting, diffuse rashes and a higher concentration of bacteria in the blood.  Patients might later experience fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, stiff neck, and fatigue.

Because the symptoms of Lyme Disease mimic other ailments such as the flu, patients can go long periods of time without being properly diagnosed, thus leading to more severe side effects.  When left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to facial paralysis and arthritis.

Physicians initially use visible symptoms and the patient’s medical history to identify Lyme Disease.  A few weeks after infection, lab tests can detect antibodies produced by the immune system in response to the infection.

Ticks are more active in the warmer months of the year, so it is important to protect your family and take extra precautions outdoors.  The CDC recommends the following:

† Use repellents that contain 20% to 30% DEET on exposed skin.

† Treat/spray clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin

† Avoid wooded and brushy areas with tall grass.

† Walk in the center of trails.

There is no evidence that Lyme disease can be transmitted from person to person or from animals to people.  But, if you have visited a region prone to Lyme Disease and think you could be infected, seek treatment as soon as possible.