The Loudoun County Health Department recently named May Lyme Disease Awareness Month. This bacterial infection, which is transmitted by ticks, is a huge problem in the county.

More than 200 cases have been reported here every year since 2008, with 261 cases of the disease reported in 2011. This represents about 25 perfect of all reported cases in the state. A surge of new cases is expected this year.

The disease is transmitted by blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks. A common early symptom of Lyme disease is a bulls eye rash caused by a tick bite. Other symptoms include fatigue, fever, chills, headache, and muscle and joint pain.

In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36-to-48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted. Left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to arthritis and problems with the heart and the central nervous system.

Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics.

Tips for Prevention

  • Avoid tick habitats, such as tall grass and wooded areas
  • Dress appropriately, with light clothing and pants tucked into socks or boots
  • Use insect repellent with DEET or a natural repellent such as the oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • Check for ticks after being outside
  • Remove ticks promptly by its head with tweezers
  • Know the early signs of Lyme disease

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