Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium, Borelia burgdorferi, and contracted from the bite of the black-legged tick. These ticks feed off of white-tailed deer in wooded areas. Most cases of Lyme disease occur in the Northeast, some parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin, the mid-Atlantic states, and along the Pacific coast. Lyme disease is usually seen during the late spring, summer, and early fall.
In many cases the disease presents as a "bulls-eye" shaped rash at the site of the bite. Early symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, fatigue, headache, stiff neck and swollen glands. If left untreated, it may become chronic and lead to brain, joint, lung or heart abnormalities.
There is no vaccine available for the prevention of Lyme disease. When caught early, the disease can be effectively treated with oral antibiotics. On rare occasions symptoms will persist despite treatment. Known as post-Lyme disease syndrome, these symptoms can interfere with daily life.
If possible, avoid tick infested areas.
When spending time in wooded or grassy areas:
- Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to spot ticks
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into shoes or socks
- Wear high boots, preferably rubber
- Spray all exposed skin areas with bug repellant
- See Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidance on How to Use Insect Repellents Safely.
Check yourself and your pets frequently during and after your walk or hike. After returning home, remove your clothes and thoroughly inspect all skin surface areas, including your scalp. For proper tick removal see this CDC website.
Useful External Links
- Michigan.gov: Lyme Disease – General information relevant to Michigan, history and suggestions
- Washtenaw County Public Health Departmen: Lyme Disease – Fact Sheet
- CDC: Lyme Disease – General information, statistics, control issues, and more