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Lyme disease, a tick-borne infection, has caused a lot of ink to flow in the past few years. Here is some information on the subject.
Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted to humans through a bite by certain types of ticks. In order for the disease to be transmitted, ticks must be infected by the bacteria in question. These vampire-like insects feast on the blood of humans and certain animals.
To transmit the infection, ticks must remain latched on to the host for at least 12 to 24 hours. The longer the tick latches on, the greater the risk of contamination. Because there is no pain, the bite often goes unnoticed. The infection cannot be transmitted from human to human or from other insects or animals to humans.
All individuals, regardless of their age or situation, can be affected by Lyme disease. People who practise activities outdoors, whether occupational or other, (landscapers, farmers, forest rangers, hikers, hunters, campers, etc.) are particularly at risk—even more so if they venture off the beaten path.
The risk of tick bites is present from spring to the beginning of winter; it peaks in spring and during summer.
Following a tick bite, the bacteria spreads to the skin, then into the blood, and to certain tissue. The signs and symptoms can be numerous and depend on the stage of the disease. For instance, they can include:
When the disease reaches an advanced stage, it can cause damage to the joints, heart, and nervous system. Death can occur in the most severe cases.
Lyme disease can be treated, especially when it is detected early. In any event, it can be difficult to recognize, since its characteristics resemble those of many other diseases. Seeking prompt medical attention helps to prevent the affected person's condition from worsening. Treatment is based on antibiotic therapy.
If you must take an antibiotic to treat Lyme disease, your pharmacist will inform you of the dosage, duration of treatment, side effects and possible interactions, and the precautions to be taken.
If ever you notice that a tick has latched on to your skin, do not kill it by crushing it. Instead, follow these steps:
For information about insect repellent, which is recommended to prevent tick bites, read the following text: Protection against insect bites using five questions.
Speak to your pharmacist to find out more about Lyme disease, protection against insects, and other ways to stay healthy during summer.
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