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After being stuck inside for weeks, thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic, people across the country are venturing back outdoors now the weather is warming up.

A recent survey finds 43 percent of Americans say they plan to do more outside activities post-COVID 19 lockdown, like walking and hiking.

Of course, getting outside has great health benefits, but it can also have some risks, especially during warmer months (April through September) — which is prime tick season. The CDC has a great resource to find out which ticks are most common in your area.

Experts predict ticks will be more troublesome this season than in years past mainly because the wildlife that can carry ticks has been wandering into residential areas after human and vehicle traffic were reduced because of stay-at-home orders. More wildlife around our homes and in our neighborhoods could lead to more ticks that have a chance to bite humans.

An active tick season combined with COVID-19 can present a whole new set of challenges.

Lyme Disease Overview

Approximately 300,000 people contract Lyme disease each year in the United States, but only one in ten cases are reported to the CDC. Lyme disease is caused by the bite of an infected black-legged tick, sometimes called the deer tick. One of the early signs of the disease is a bulls-eye rash. However, only 70–80 percent of people will have this symptom.

Other symptoms of Lyme disease are less distinctive and can be confused with other illnesses, including COVID-19.  These symptoms include fever, head and body aches, and fatigue. These flu-like symptoms can be deceptive to both patients and doctors, particularly if the person doesn’t recall being bitten by a tick in the first place.

There are three stages of Lyme disease. If caught early, it can be cured. Treatment involves two to four weeks of antibiotics. However, if someone mistakes Lyme disease for COVID-19, they could unknowingly delay necessary medical treatment, and that can lead to severe, potentially debilitating symptoms, including neurological and cognitive problems, heart problems, and painful arthritis. Here is a closer look at the three stages of Lyme disease.

Stage One: Early Localized

Lyme is the easiest to cure at this stage. Symptoms may begin hours, a few days, or even weeks after a tick bite. At this point, the infection has not yet spread throughout the body. Symptoms may include:

  • Skin rash, which may or may not look like a bulls-eye
  • Fever and chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headache and stiff neck
  • Muscle soreness and joint pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sore throat

Stage Two: Early Disseminated Lyme disease

If not treated, this stage may begin several weeks or months after a tick bite as bacteria spread throughout the body. Stage two is often marked by an increase in symptoms such as:

  • Fever and chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Changes in vision
  • Pain, weakness or numbness in the arms, legs
  • Chest pain or palpitations
  • Rash may appear on the body
  • Facial paralysis

Stage Three: Late Disseminated Lyme disease

At this point, the bacteria that cause Lyme disease have spread throughout the body, causing a number of chronic and sometimes debilitating symptoms that could last a lifetime. These symptoms may include:

  • Arthritis in joints or near the point of infection
  • Severe headaches or migraines
  • Vertigo
  • Stiff neck
  • Insomnia
  • Heart problems
  • Brain fog
  • Numbness in the arms, legs, hands, or feet
  • Severe fatigue

Tricks to Avoid Ticks

Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, and even on animals. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood. Spending time outside, whether it’s walking the dog, hiking, or gardening, can bring you in close contact with ticks — but that shouldn’t deter you from enjoying the fresh air.

Here are some helpful tips to avoid ticks.

  • If walking in wooded or areas with high grass, wear shoes, long pants tucked into your socks, a long-sleeved shirt, a hat, and gloves.
  • Treat clothing and shoes with products designed to repel ticks. Look for products containing permethrin. This can be used to treat footwear and clothing and will remain protective through several washings.
  • Do a tick check before heading indoors. Check your pets and any gear, too. Ticks can hitch a ride into the home on clothing, gear like backpacks, and pets, then attach to a person later. Deer ticks are often no bigger than the head of a pin, so you may not discover them unless you search carefully.
  • Wash clothes in hot water and dry clothes in a dryer on high heat. You can also kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors by putting them in the dryer on high for ten minutes.
  • Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease. Not only could it wash off unattached ticks, it is also a good opportunity to do a tick check.

Check these parts of your body for ticks:

  • Under the arms
  • In and around the ears
  • Inside belly button
  • Back of the knees
  • In and around the hair
  • Between the legs
  • Around the waist

If you find a tick, remove it as soon as possible. Use tweezers to gently grasp the tick near its head or mouth. Try not to squeeze or crush the tick. Instead, pull carefully and steadily. Once you’ve removed the entire tick, dispose of it and apply antiseptic to the bite area.

Get Tested

In order for your doctor to make an accurate diagnosis, you can’t rely on symptoms alone. You need accurate, sensitive testing to pinpoint the source of disease. Any Lab Test Now provides such testing. Our specialized Lyme disease test is performed by certified lab technicians to measure the Borrelia antibodies in the blood. Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii are the bacteria that cause the infection we call Lyme disease. Test results are usually available within 24–72 business hours. No need for you to make an appointment with a doctor first.  You can walk in to Any Lab Test Now to get the test at any time.  The sooner you get tested, the sooner your doctor can start treatment if you test positive.

Be At Ease

If you are considering a Lyme disease test but are wary of bumping into a coronavirus patient at your doctor’s office, you can be at ease with a visit to Any Lab Test Now. We provide you a safe and clean alternative location for lab work. Each of our 180+ stores is sanitized several times a day, in accordance with the CDC’s protocols. When you get your test results, you can easily make a telemedicine appointment with your physician and share the details. Any Lab Test Now is a committed partner in helping you manage your healthcare so you can make educated decisions that will directly affect your quality of life. We want to put you at ease during the coronavirus outbreak. We are here to help.

Find your closest Any Lab Test Now store at www.anylabtestnow.com.

Thank you for your interest in making an appointment for your child under the age of 12.

Because of the special nature of working with children, we ask that you contact our store to provide us with additional details regarding the test(s) you are seeking for this underage customer.

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