With the warmer summer months comes an increase in the number of ticks, including those that carry the most common tick-borne disease, Lyme disease. Transmitted through a tick bite, the disease can cause symptoms such as rash, fevers, chills, fatigue, body aches, headache, neck stiffness and swollen lymph nodes. And if left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to more serious health issues such as paralysis and heart and neurological disorders.
Ticks are small, spider-like bugs most commonly found in long grasses and on bushes and trees, but they can also be found in urban settings. In the last decade the number of reported cases of Lyme disease has increased dramatically, 144 cases in 2005 to 2,025 cases in 2017; however the Canadian Lyme Disease Research Network believes the number of actual cases to be much higher.
That’s because Lyme disease continues to be very difficult to diagnose. It’s a complex disease that can present with multiple unusual symptoms. In the early stages these symptoms are flu-like, but if left untreated the infection can spread causing nerve tissue damage, neurological problems or heart issues. This can lead to mistaken diagnoses including meningitis, arthritis, stroke, heart disease, Bell’s palsy, and multiple sclerosis.
Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself and limit your exposure to ticks and tick bites:
What to do if you find a tick on yourself:
One of the most common early signs of Lyme disease is an expanding skin rash that looks like a “bull’s eye.” If this or any other symptoms appear within days or weeks after being bitten by a tick, consult your family doctor or other healthcare professional.
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