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      Avoid Lyme disease this summer

      Posted on May 30, 2012 at 4:46 PM

      DeerTick2.jpg
      The unseasonably warm weather this year has been great for Minnesotans who like to spend their time outdoors. Unfortunately, it’s also been great for Minnesota’s tick population, and the risk of contracting tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease could be higher than ever. Last month was proclaimed Lyme Disease Awareness Month by Governor Dayton, but the Governor reminds Minnesotans to take precautions throughout the summer to avoid Lyme and other disease transmitted by ticks.

      Minnesota is already a high-risk area for Lyme, a disease found primarily in northeastern and upper Midwestern states. A record-high 1,293 cases of Lyme were reported in 2010 and many experts predict we are on track to have more this year. Ticks can survive Minnesota’s harsh winters and become active when the temperature reaches 38 degrees, so while these parasites usually won’t be seen until March, they may have been active in January and February this year.

      Lyme is carried by the Eastern blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick. They are smaller than the common American Dog tick – better known as the wood tick. In order to prevent picking up a tick and the Lyme bacteria they can carry, take precautions when outdoors this summer. The Minnesota Department of Health recommends you avoid walking in brush or tall grass if you are in wooded areas; keep your feet, ankles, and legs covered; and use an insect repellant containing DEET on uncovered skin (except the face).

      If you find a tick, remove it by the head with a tweezers – pulling it off by the body can leave the head embedded in your skin, increasing the risk of Lyme transmission. If you are unable to do this, visit a doctor. Since early treatment is key to a quick recovery, you should also visit a doctor if you suspect you may have contracted Lyme. Symptoms include a red “bulls-eye”-type rash around the bite area, as well as joint pain, fatigue, and flu-like fever or chills.

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