Lyme Disease: Prevention and Detection

Capital District Physicians' Health Plan, Inc. (CDPHP) is urging people to become more familiar with the signs and symptoms associated with Lyme disease, particularly the bulls-eye rash.

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“It’s very important that people become familiar with the most common sign of Lyme disease, the rash, which is called Erythema Migrans,” said Elizabeth Whalen, MD, MPH, medical director, CDPHP.

Albany, NY (PRWEB) May 24, 2012

Capital District Physicians' Health Plan, Inc. (CDPHP) is urging people to become more familiar with the signs and symptoms associated with Lyme disease. The bacterial disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected deer tick, and cases in the Capital Region have been on the rise in recent years.

“It’s very important that people become familiar with the most common sign of Lyme disease, the rash, which is called Erythema Migrans,” said Elizabeth Whalen, MD, MPH, medical director, CDPHP, who noted 60-80 percent of people infected with Lyme disease display a rash resembling a bulls eye or solid red patch, from 2 to 6 inches in diameter. This rash is usually not painful or itchy, and appears 3 to 30 days after a tick bite. “Antibiotics are most effective when administered during this time period. Patients who are treated in this early stage of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely,” added Whalen. Other early symptoms can include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and swollen glands, but these may seem too mild to require medical attention.

Reducing exposure to ticks is the best prevention against Lyme disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends several methods to avoid being bitten by a tick.

  •     On People: Avoid wooded and brushy areas, repel ticks with DEET or Permethrin, and check skin and clothing for ticks as soon as possible after coming indoors. Parents should check children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and in hair.
  •     On Pets: Check pets daily for ticks, immediately remove ticks when found, and talk to your veterinarian about using tick repellants on your pets.
  •     In the Yard: Clear tall grass and brush, mow lawn frequently, keep playground equipment and lawn furniture in sunny locations and away from yard edges.

“Just as hand hygiene is important for the prevention of the common cold or flu during the winter months, people should be thinking about taking steps to prevent a tick bite to avoid Lyme disease during the spring, summer, and fall,” said Whalen. While it’s good to take preventative measures against tick bites year-round, the CDC recommends being extra vigilant during warmer months (April-September) when ticks are most active. If you do find a tick, remove it as soon as possible as the risk of infection is greatly reduced if the tick is attached for less than 36 hours.

If you suspect you’ve been bitten by a tick, or have signs or symptoms of Lyme disease, Whalen suggests you contact your health care provider. She warns against seeking out information about the disease from unreliable sources. Credible information about Lyme disease, including photos of the Erythem Migrans rash and the proper way to remove a tick, can be found on the New York State Department of Health website.

For more information or to speak to Elizabeth Whalen, please contact Ali Skinner at (518) 605-4497.

About CDPHP®
Established in 1984 as a physician-founded, member-focused, and community-based not-for-profit health plan, CDPHP and its affiliates are uniquely positioned to serve as a model of quality and health value, offering members in 24 counties throughout New York a full array of innovative products. Visit CDPHP at http://www.cdphp.com or on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

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