Lyme Disease Is Now In All 50 States

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Lyme Disease Is Now In All 50 States

You can prevent getting a tick-borne illness by getting rid of ticks immediately.

STATE WIDE--Lyme disease is now in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., said a report from Quest Diagnostics. In Indiana, the State Health Dept. has been warning Hoosiers about ticks and the illnesses they carry. This year over 100 people have already been infected with different tick-borne diseases.

Though no one one has died of Lyme diseas in Indiana this year, a rare death from Lyme carditis was reported in Vermont this week.

In Indiana, one person died of erlichiosis, which is a tick-carried disease. Rocky Mountain spotted fever cases have also been reported.

"The CDC published some alerts that the number of mosquito-borne and tick-borne disease in the United States had been increasing," said Dr. John Christenson, infectious disease physician at Riley Children's Health. "Obviously that has to do with how warm our planet is getting, especially in the United States."

Ticks are most active when it is warmer, in the summer months.

“You should take precautions to prevent tick bites whenever you spend time outdoors. Call your health care provider right away if you develop a flu-like illness or a rash during the summer months," said Jennifer Brown, D.V.M., M.P.H., state public health veterinarian at the Indiana State Department of Health.

From the Indiana State Dept. of Health:

Hoosiers can reduce their risk of tick bites by:

  • Wearing a long-sleeved shirt and light-colored pants, with the shirt tucked in at the waist and the pants tucked into socks, if they will be in grassy or wooded areas.
  • Treating clothing and outdoor gear with 0.5% permethrin, an insect repellent commonly used for this purpose. Note that permethrin should NOT be used on bare skin.
  • Using EPA-registered insect repellents with active ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD) or 2-undecanone.
  • Treating pets for ticks.

 
Prompt removal of ticks can help prevent disease transmission. Once indoors, people should thoroughly check for ticks on clothing, gear, pets and skin and then shower to help remove any unattached ticks. Tumbling clothes in the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes will kill any ticks on clothing.
 
To safely remove a tick, use tweezers to grasp the tick close to the skin and then pull outward with steady and even pressure. After the tick is removed, wash the area thoroughly. The tick should be discarded by submerging it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or container, wrapping it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet. Ticks should never be crushed with the fingernails. 
 
Anyone who becomes ill after spending time outdoors should see a health care provider immediately and inform the provider about any possible tick exposure. Most tick-borne diseases can be successfully treated with antibiotics, and prompt diagnosis can help prevent complications from tick-borne infections.
 
For more information about ticks and how to prevent the diseases they carry, see the ISDH website at http://www.in.gov/isdh/20491.htm

PHOTO: Thinkstock/Victor Cap

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