May is lyme disease awareness month

So, what's all the big hype about Lyme Disease, we have a vaccine now don't we? Don't be lulled into thinking you're safe from this dread disease. Number one, physicians, as well as the Centers for disease Control are recommending that only those in northern California, Wisconsin and the northeast be vaccinated for Lyme, yet statistics show that you can contract Lyme Disease in any one of the 50 states, on every continent and every country. So why don't we just line everybody up and start vaccinating! And wouldn't that be wonderful. Unfortunately, we're once again not being shown the whole picture.

Researchers believe that there may be more than one strain of Borrelia Burgdorfer, the bacteria which causes Lyme. And as with anything new, the verdict is still out as to how well the public will be protected. Of course, the vaccine is an important step in protection-- yet don't take chances!

I speak from experience, having contracted this terrible disease myself. What a perfectly awful time in my life!

The facts of this condition, how you contract it and how to protect yourself have not changed. Even if you do have the vaccine, don't rely on it alone-- take the precautions that have proven to be effective in preventing Lyme Disease.

How can I protect myself and my family?

1. Use a spray containing 15 to 30 percent DEET such as Deep Woods Off when going into the woods or tall grassy areas. Remember that the tick which carries the bacteria is carried on the backs of not only deer, but migrating birds, wild turkey, possums, coons and other wild critters. The fact that we live in a very agriculturally-developed area does reduce the tick population because of chemical sprays but does not eradicate them completely.

2. Understanding the behavior of the tick will help protect you. A tick cannot turn and crawl down, it will only crawl up. So, tuck your pants inside your socks, wear long sleeves and wear a hat.

3. After being outdoors, do tick checks on yourself and family, don't forget the family pets, then shower and look again. The tick is the size of a poppy seed, so don't think that you will immediately see the tick. Place your clothing in a hamper with a lid. Check the clothing in the morning. If there were ticks on the clothing they will be right at the top of the clothing by morning. Many a tick is loosed in the house to climb in bed with you later by not containing your clothing correctly.

4. 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.

5. Correct removal is vital-- if bitten, remove the tick with a fine pointed tweezers grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible. DO NOT grasp the body of the tick, burn the tick, smother it with Vaseline, as it may only cause the tick to regurgitate infected blood back into you.

6. Save the tick in a tightly sealed bottle or wrap it up in a knotted piece of Saran Wrap. If you become ill later the tick can be tested for Lyme much easier than you!

If you develop symptoms of any kind following a tick bite, see your doctor. Insist that you be tested. If you are not comfortable with the outcome of your doctor visit or the test results, remember that testing for Lyme Disease is not 100 percent accurate and symptoms vary from person to person; you may want to seek another opinion or see a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

Knowledge is power; correct information abounds regarding symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Be safe and protect yourself, your family and your pets from Lyme Disease.

Till next time, Rebecca.

Uploaded to The Zephyr website May 18, 1999

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