Seek immediate medical attention if you live in or have visited an area where Lyme disease is common and you experience a flulike illness or develop a red or target-like rash anytime from late spring to early fall. Prompt treatment at this stage reduces the risk of further symptoms of Lyme disease.
Lyme disease should be treated promptly; if you cannot see your doctor quickly, go to a hospital's emergency department immediately.
Health departments in areas with high rates of infection have undertaken campaigns to raise public awareness of Lyme disease.
Follow-up with continued care is important for people who have early Lyme disease but who fail to improve rapidly and completely.
There are three approaches to preventing Lyme disease.
Deer ticks need to remain attached to your skin for about 24-48 hours to transmit the Borrelia to your skin. Therefore, you should inspect all areas of your body after outdoor activity.
If you notice a bite, it is very important to watch for symptoms, which usually show up in about three weeks.
Ticks attach to areas that are warm and moist.
If you see a tick, promptly remove it. This greatly reduces the likelihood of an infection.
If you have tweezers, grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible and gently lift it away, pulling gradually but firmly. If you don't have tweezers, pull the tick off by its body. Removal is more important than how you remove it.
Often, the complete mouth parts do not come out with the rest of the tick. Leaving these in will not increase the risk of disease transmission but may have implications in terms of local infection or foreign body reaction.
Disinfect the bite site thoroughly with alcohol or other skin antiseptic solution.
Use of gasoline, petroleum, and other organic solvents to suffocate ticks, as well as burning the tick with a match, should be avoided.
If the tick does not come off easily, twist the tweezers like a corkscrew while holding the tick and lift upward.
Treatment of tick bites within 72 hours of a bite with a single dose of doxycycline has been reported to prevent Lyme disease. This may be appropriate if you live in an endemic area and have removed an engorged tick or multiple ticks. You should discuss this with your doctor.
When treated early, most people with Lyme disease experience rapid improvement and minimal complications from the disease. Later stages of illness are avoided by effective treatment of early Lyme disease.
People with later stages of the disease may also do well when they are diagnosed soon after their later-stage symptoms first occur.
A small percentage of people with Lyme disease do not fully recover or recover very slowly. There may be residual facial palsy or residual knee pain. Other people develop chronic muscle and joint pains, fatigue, and concentration difficulties that seem to have arisen from the time of the original Lyme infection. While these chronic and recurring symptoms have been called chronic Lyme disease, recent studies have not shown any evidence of Borrelial infection in the blood or spinal fluid, and further antibiotic therapy does not appear to have a durable effect in relieving the condition. For the present, patients with this problem are being treated with supportive measures.
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