Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by tick bites

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Ticks are the vectors that transmit Lyme disease. A tick bite starts as a small, red area and gets larger. Often the center of the widening circle clears and the red area around it forms a bull’s-eye. Go to the Mayo Clinic website for photos of tick bites.

Late summer is a high-risk time for vector-borne illnesses, and spending time in grassy or heavily wooded areas increases your risk.

Ticks tend to attach themselves to places that are hard to see, such as armpits, scalp and similar, making them difficult to detect. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has useful information on Lyme Disease.

Not all ticks carry disease, but the best strategy is to prevent any tick bites. Do this:
Wear long sleeves and pants in tall grass and wooded areas. Use insect repellent with DEET. Check yourself, your children and pets for ticks as you come inside.

If you find a tick, remove it immediately with a tweezers by pulling steadily. Flush the tick. Apply antiseptic to the bite.

If you think you’ve had a tick bite and experience fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, headache, neck stiffness or swollen lymph nodes, call your doctor. Lyme disease treatment is more effective when started early.

Ann Cochran is the health navigation coordinator in the Dallas County Public Health Department.

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