Friday, August 12, 2005
Lyme disease is on the rise
[The Mosquito will follow up this report with interviews with several Carlisle residents who have suffered from the Lyme disease in the next issue.]
There has been an increase in the incidence of Lyme disease in Carlisle residents over the past few weeks. Lyme disease bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, is spread to both animals and humans by tiny infected deer ticks. Deer ticks are most active between late May and early autumn and can be found in brushy, wooded or grassy places. An early symptom of Lyme disease can be a rash in the area of the tick bite, but this is not always the case. Flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, stiff neck, sore and aching muscles and joints, fatigue and swollen glands are also early symptoms. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment of symptoms can prevent later complications.
To protect against Lyme disease the Board of Health recommends the following:
• Avoid areas where deer ticks are likely to be found; wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants tucked into socks; light colors will help you spot the ticks.
• Use repellents containing DEET (N,N diethyl-m-toluamide). Read product labels carefully.
• DEET should not be used on children less than two months of age. Mosquito netting may be used to cover infant carriers to protect children less than two months of age.
• For older children and adults, use DEET in concentrations of 30% or lower.
• Avoid using DEET products that combine the repellent with a sunscreen. Sunscreens may need to be reapplied too often, resulting in an over application of DEET.
• Apply DEET on exposed skin, using only as much as needed.
• Do not use DEET on the hands of young children and avoid applying repellent to areas around the eyes and mouth.
• Do not use DEET over cuts, wounds or irritated skin. Wash treated skin with soap and water after returning indoors and wash treated clothing.
• Avoid spraying DEET products in enclosed areas.
• The insecticide permethrin can only be used on clothing to protect against ticks. Do not apply to skin.
• Check for ticks every day. Their favorite places are on the legs, in the groin, in the armpits, along the hairline, and in or behind the ears. The ticks are tiny, so look for new "freckles".
• Remove any tick promptly using fine point tweezers. The tick should not be squeezed. Grasp it close to your skin and pull straight out with steady pressure. Apply an antiseptic to the area.
• Be aware of the early symptoms, especially if you get a rash and see a doctor right away.
[Recommendations are from a Public Health Fact Sheet, "Lyme Disease" Mass. Department of Public Health. For more information see the web site: mass.gov/dph/cdc/epii/lyme/lymehp.htm.]
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