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Lyme Disease Could Make a Big Mark This Summer

It will likely be a few more years before we know the full impact the pandemic had on the number of cases of Lyme disease. Reports from labs, like ANY LAB TEST NOW®, that test for Lyme Disease, already show a six percent increase in exposure over the last year — a number expected to increase even more.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that around 476,000 Americans will be diagnosed this year with Lyme disease, the result of a single bite from a tick.

On top of that, there are currently more than two million people in the U.S. suffering from chronic illness associated with Lyme disease.

Thanks to the pandemic, more people have been spending more time outdoors, increasing their risk of contracting Lyme disease. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or even on animals. Spending time outdoors, walking your dog, camping, gardening, or hunting could bring you in close contact with ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood. Ticks can also show up in unexpected places. Researchers in California were recently surprised to find ticks in areas of grass and scrub leading to beaches.

Preventing Tick Bites

It is important to know when ticks are active and what steps you can take to reduce your risk of being bitten by a tick.

Ticks are active from March through November — or anytime the temperature is above freezing. Click here for a map that shows the most active months for ticks in your state.

Before Heading Outdoors

If you are an avid walker and love to venture out into areas where ticks might be active, you should consider treating your clothing and gear with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin.

You can also use tick-repelling products. Look for repellents registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone.

After Coming Indoors

Check your clothing for ticks. Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing. Any ticks that are found should be removed. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes require washing first, always use hot water.

Examine gear and pets. Ticks can be transferred into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, bags, etc.

Take a shower. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks.

Check your body for ticks. Conduct a full body check. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body.

Important: If you do find a tick attached to yourself, you should always save it so you can send it to your local health department for identification and testing to see if it carries Lyme disease.

Early Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes.

You may also experience a bull’s-eye rash known as erythema migrans (EM), which occurs in about 70 to 80 percent of infected persons. This rash appears between three to 30 days at the site of a tick bite.

Later Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease

The following symptoms can occur weeks to months after a bite from an infected tick:

  • Facial palsy (loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face).
  • Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints.
  • Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones.
  • Heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat.
  • Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath.
  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Nerve pain.
  • Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet.

Diagnosis and Treatment

ANY LAB TEST NOW offers a simple blood test that will help detect and measure antibodies that the body produces in an attempt to fight the disease. The presence of antibodies cannot always determine if the Lyme disease infection is recent or due to a tick bite in the past, but it can put you and your doctor on the right path to helping you feel better.

If your results are negative and your symptoms are still present, it’s a good idea to perform a repeat test. It can take up to two months for antibodies to develop.

After getting your results at your local ANY LAB TEST NOW, you should see your doctor. The good news is that most cases of Lyme disease can be successfully treated by a few weeks of antibiotics, according to the CDC.

Be at Ease

ANY LAB TEST NOW wants you to be at ease when it comes to seeking out any type of lab work, including testing for Lyme disease.

We provide you a safe and clean alternative location for lab work. Each of our 190+ stores is sanitized several times a day, in accordance with the CDC’s protocols. ANY LAB TEST NOW is a committed partner in helping you manage your family’s 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 pandemic. We are here to help.

For more information about ANY LAB TEST NOW, and the tests we offer, visit us at www.anylabtestnow.com.

 

Summer Health Alert: It’s Lyme Disease Season

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.