Pres Rx: Lyme Disease

It was once thought Lyme disease was limited to the Northeast, but times have changed. It's still prevalent in that area, but you also can contract the disease in most other parts of the country. This week, Dr. Tedd L. Mitchell tells us why it's important to be leery of ticks and the illness they may carry.

If you're a pet owner, you probably know how important it is to protect your animals against ticks — especially in the summer. But did you know that Lyme disease is a year-round threat for animals and humans in most parts of the country?

Cases of Lyme Disease are reported annually coast to coast. The Illness is largely unrecognized, which means it is often misdiagnosed by doctors who are not familiar with its clinical presentation.

Lyme disease is spread when a tick bites a deer that carries Lyme disease bacteria. If an infected tick then bites a human, the result is often an initial "bull's-eye" rash followed by flu like symptoms including fever, chills and body aches.

Folks who spend time outdoors with any of these symptoms should see a doctor right away. It's important to catch the infection early, because chronic Lyme disease can damage joints, the heart and the neurological system. The sooner antibiotics are taken, the better the outcome.

Ticks may be picked up in high grass, on golf courses, playgrounds, farms, ranches, and in private lands. Anyone who engages in outdoor pursuits may be at risk for exposure to Lyme disease and therefore should take proper precautions.

Protect yourself from ticks by applying liberal amounts of  sprays that contain DEET. Wear light-colored clothing so that you can spot ticks on yourself and others before they have a chance to attach. Do a "tick check" after every outing. Because ticks like skin folds, especially examine your groin, underarms and belt line area. For maintaining good health, I'm Dr. Tedd Mitchell.