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Removing a Tick and Recognizing Lyme Disease

First Aids

Lyme disease gets its name from the town of Lyme, Connecticut, where the first outbreak took place.

The spread of Lyme Disease has caused a certain amount of panic, especially among people who live in the Northeast. And statistics add to the scare: 50 percent of the deer ticks found in New Jersey carry Lyme Disease, and raccoons, skunks, mice, and even solid earth itself can hold Lyme-carrying ticks.

The good news is that a blood test can detect Lyme Disease, and antibodies can get rid of it. Even better: scientists have already developed a Lyme Disease vaccine for dogs and cats. It's only a matter of time until we have one as well.

If you exhibit any of the following symptoms, see your physician as soon as possible. The presence of these symptoms doesn't mean that you have Lyme Disease; they can indicate other types of infection that might need medical attention.

Swelling of the joints Swollen glands
Fever within ten days Throbbing pain at the bite site
Pus oozing from the site Severe headaches
A red ring-like rash at the bite site within a month Chronic fatigue

If Lyme Disease is not treated within the first few months, it can infect the heart or nervous system. It can also cause chronic arthritis. If you think you might have been bitten by a tick carrying Lyme Disease, don't hesitate to have a blood test or contact your doctor. It's simple; it's easy; and it will put your mind at ease.

First Things First

Tick prevention is a matter of common sense. Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, caps, socks, and shoes when hiking in the woods or vacationing in areas that might be tick-infested. Choose light-colored clothing so that ticks will be more visible on you. Also, spray your campsite with insecticides and inspect each other's skin for ticks at the end of the day. Another plus for insect repellents: they can also keep ticks at bay!

Blood tests are a good way to determine whether or not you have Lyme Disease. But be forewarned. You need to let some time pass (two to three weeks) before taking a test. The results might not show positive for a certain amount of time after the bite. Try to remember when you were bitten and tell your physician. He or she might recommend a second blood test later on if the original test results came back negative but the symptoms continue.

Rocky Mountain “Highs”

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is much less common than Lyme Disease. It is transmitted by a different type of tick that's found mainly in Central and South America, along the eastern coast from Delaware to Florida, and, yes, in the Rocky Mountains.

Its initial symptoms are very similar to Lyme Disease, but it will also cause insomnia, restlessness, and some bleeding at the bite site. Symptoms usually occur within two weeks, but if left unchecked, Rocky Mountain spotted fever can cause heart or brain damage. Antibiotics administered in the early stages can eliminate the infection.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to First Aid Basics © 1996 by Stephen J. Rosenberg, M.D. and Karla Dougherty. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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