Protecting Yourself Against Lyme Disease: A Review

Every writer has their favorite topics, things they like to dig at­­ causes. One of mine is Lyme disease. In the fall of 1987, my two dogs and I all contracted Lyme disease. What a terribly devastating time in my life that was. Lyme disease, little known, poorly understood, and, if left untreated, a cruel and insidious invader. Unrelenting, it will invade every organ, tissue and cell in the body until stopped. So as the weather warms up and you find yourself in the great outdoors, be sure to protect yourself, your family and your pets.

Don't be fooled into thinking you don't live in "Lyme country." My dogs had not been out of Knox County. Some counties closely surrounding Knox County have been shown to be endemic for Lyme Disease­­ including Rock Island. Some people live in fear of going out or into the woods because of the tick that carries Lyme. Armed with the facts you can go where you want and still be safe.

Here are the facts:

Lyme disease is found in all 50 states, in every country, and on all continents.

No one is immune.

It is the second largest growing infectious disease in America today and the number one bacterial infection caused by the bite of a tick.

There is no 100 percent accurate blood test for Lyme disease; it is a clinical diagnosis.

Only 40-60 percent of the people who develop Lyme disease will develop a tell-tale bulls eye rash or remember being bitten.

You are at higher risk during the spring, summer and fall, or if you spend a fair amount of time outside, near the water or in the woods.

If undetected, or left untreated appropriately, it can be life-threatening and do permanent damage to the body.

Here's how to protect yourself:

Use spray containing l5-30 percent DEET; use sparingly on children

Tuck your pants inside your socks, wear long sleeves and a hat.

It is vital to do tick checks for yourself, your family, and your pets each time after being outside.

If bitten, remove the tick with fine pointed tweezers grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible. DO NOT grasp the body of the tick as it may regurgitate infected blood back into you. This is also the case if you burn or try to smother the tick. Safe correct removal is vital.

Save the tick and keep it alive in a tightly sealed bottle, or wrap it up in a knotted piece of Saran wrap with a blade of grass for moisture. If you become ill later the tick can be tested for disease easier than you.

If you develop an unknown rash but do not remember a tick bite, take a picture of it. It may help your doctor make the correct diagnosis.

Symptoms are varied; you may have one or several. The most common ones are:

An expanding rash, not necessarily bulls eye in size or shape

Flu-like symptoms

Joint pain



night sweats

visual disturbances


The onset of symptoms after being bitten may vary.

Enjoy the great outdoors this spring and summer and remember to be safe and protect yourself from Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

Till next time, Rebecca.

This article posted to Zephyr online May 22, 1997
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