Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy Monday reminded Pennsylvanians of the importance of taking proper precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones against Lyme disease and other tick-related illnesses.
"Warmer summer weather means people are spending more time outdoors, increasing their potential exposure to Lyme disease," said Dr. Murphy. "If left untreated, Lyme disease can be a very damaging ailment. There are easy ways to drastically reduce your chances of getting bitten by ticks and contracting this illness while still having fun outdoors."
Lyme disease is an illness that can be transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Some of the first general symptoms of a Lyme disease infection are fever, malaise, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, and joint pain.
An individual who has been bitten by a tick will often develop a tell-tale red rash that may look like a bulls-eye.
The first line of defense against Lyme disease and any other tick-borne illnesses is avoidance of tick-infested habitats, such as areas dense with shrubbery or tall grass.
Proper use of personal protective measures, such as repellents and protective clothing and checking for and removing attached ticks, is also an important deterrent to tick-related complications.
"When residents spend time around common tick environments, such as the woods, and they don't wear many layers of clothing, they are vulnerable to be being bitten by an infected tick," added Murphy. "We suggest that individuals wear protective clothing, use insect repellent (i.e., DEET), and do a full body check after spending time outdoors. Showering within two hours of outdoor exposure may also help prevent transmission."
Lyme disease can lead to very serious health issues if not given the correct medical attention. A transmission of Lyme disease that is left untreated or inadequately treated may progress to late-stage arthritic or nervous system complications requiring more intensive therapy.
Individuals who develop signs and symptoms of Lyme disease after a tick bite should seek medical attention.
To find out more, visit the Department of Health’s Lyme Disease webpage.
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