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What is Lyme disease? What ticks carry it; how to protect yourself

Caught early on, Lyme disease can be treated

390650 01: A Close Up Of An Adult Female, An Adult Male, Nymph And Larva Tick Is Shown June 15, 2001. Ticks Cause An Acute Inflammatory Disease Characterized By Skin Changes, Joint Inflammation, And Flu-Like Symptoms Called Lyme Disease. (Photo By Getty Images)
390650 01: A Close Up Of An Adult Female, An Adult Male, Nymph And Larva Tick Is Shown June 15, 2001. Ticks Cause An Acute Inflammatory Disease Characterized By Skin Changes, Joint Inflammation, And Flu-Like Symptoms Called Lyme Disease. (Photo By Getty Images)

The tick-borne illness known as Lyme disease affects about 30,000 Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s what you need to know about the disease, including how to prevent it.

How do people, pets get it?

Lyme Disease is spread through the bite of an infected tick. Deer ticks, or blacklegged ticks, are the most common carriers of the disease.

Ticks can attach to any part of a person or a pet but often go for hard-to-see areas, including the scalp. The most common carriers of the disease are immature ticks called nymphs. Those are usually smaller and harder to spot than the full-grown, adult ticks.

The most common time of year for tick bites is in the spring and summer months, according to the CDC.

Click here for more information on preventing tick bites and what to do if you have been bitten by a tick.

Prevention is key

The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid being beaten by an infected tick through insect repellents and other measures.

Consumer Reports found products that contain between 15% and 30% DEET are best at repelling ticks, along with products with 20% Picaridin or 30% Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.

If you’re in a wooded area, wear long sleeves, long pants and closed-toe shoes.

At a home, a border of wood chips or bark mulch can create a barrier from ticks.

Where do the most infected bites happen in the U.S.?

According to the CDC, the northeast United States has more incidence of infected tick bites, along with Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Connecticut, Maine, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and New Hampshire are among the states with the most cases for 2018.

According to 2018 data, Pennsylvania had the most confirmed cases of Lyme disease with 7,920 cases.

What are the symptoms?

In an Instagram post on Wednesday, pop star Justin Bieber announced he has been suffering from Lyme Disease for a couple of years.

Bieber said people have speculated he was on drugs, saying that instead, those outward symptoms are from Lyme Disease. He described it as having a “serious case of chronic mono” and has affected his “skin, brain function, energy and overall health.”

Early symptoms can appear between three and 30 days after an infected tick bite, including flu-like conditions such as headache, fatigue and fever.

Later signs of the disease can include neurological problems, and if left untreated, the disease can spread to the joints and heart, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lyme disease can be confirmed through a blood test.

The good news is that if it’s caught early on, Lyme disease patients can fully recover with appropriate antibiotics.

Click here for more symptoms.


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