The most effective way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid tick bites particular during “Lyme Season”, spring and early summer. Preventive measures include wearing long pants, long-sleeve shirts, socks and head covering when outside, using DEET insect repellent, avoiding areas likely to harbor ticks, checking for ticks daily, bathing promptly after potential exposure, clearing brush and leaf litter, monitoring household pets for ticks, and applying lawn pesticide each spring. Ticks, if found, can be removed using tweezers taking care to avoid twisting or crushing the body of the tick or removing the head from the tick’s body. Alternatively, the tick may be killed first by using a product to rapidly freeze the tick to prevent it from injecting bacteria into the skin prior to removing.
Early signs and symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, chills, headache, stiff neck, fatigue, aching muscles and joints, and swollen lymph glands. A rash termed erythema migrans (EM) occurs in 70% to 80% of cases within 3 to 30 days at the site of the initiating tick bite, may grow to a foot or more in diameter, may clear as it grows to produce a characteristic “bulls-eye” appearance, and while warm to the touch, is seldom painful (see figure for example EM rashes). You should seek medical attention if you observe any of these symptoms following a tick bite, or live in a Lyme disease area, or have recently traveled in a Lyme disease area (see map above).