LVHN Health Tips: Doctor talks about symptoms of Lyme disease … –

Pennsylvania is home to plenty of beautiful places to hike and camp, but it’s also home to deer ticks, which transmit Lyme disease.
“Pennsylvania is one of the leading states in the U.S. for Lyme disease. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease and how you can prevent tick bites,” says Mark Knouse, MD, Chief, Infectious Diseases, Lehigh Valley Health Network.
Lyme disease basics
Dr. Knouse says there are a few things you should know about Lyme disease as you plan your summer adventures.
1. You don’t have to be in the woods to get a tick bite. Most people contract Lyme disease within just 100 yards of their house – not in a wooded area. Deer ticks also live in tall grass and can be found on cats and dogs.
2. Not everyone with Lyme disease has a bull’s-eye rash. A bull’s-eye rash, called erythema migrans, is often a telltale sign of Lyme disease – but it’s not always present. Up to 30 percent of those with Lyme disease never get the rash.
3. Symptoms of Lyme disease can be similar to other conditions. Some doctors refer to Lyme disease as the great imitator because it shares symptoms with several conditions, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and lupus.
4. Diagnosing Lyme disease can be tricky. Because it mimics other conditions, Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose. The best method to diagnose Lyme disease is through a two-step blood test, which looks for antibodies made by the body in response to infection.
5. Treatment is available for Lyme disease. Lyme disease is highly treatable, especially if caught early. Treatment in early stages is a simple 10- to 14-day course of oral antibiotics. In more severe cases, antibiotics may be administered intravenously or for a longer period of time.
Reducing your risk for Lyme disease
There are ways to minimize your risk for getting Lyme disease. “If you are going to be in a wooded area or an area with high grass, cover up as much skin as possible and use an insect repellant with DEET. You also should thoroughly check your clothing, yourself and your children for ticks after coming indoors,” Dr. Knouse says.
He adds showering within two hours after doing yardwork has been shown to be effective for reducing the risk for Lyme disease after being exposed to deer ticks.
If you do find a tick on yourself or children, remove it as soon as possible with tweezers. Once you carefully remove the tick, dispose of it by putting it in rubbing alcohol or flushing it down the toilet. Apply antiseptic to the bite area and watch for any symptoms of Lyme disease.
If you find a deer tick that is engorged and was attached to you for 48 hours or longer, there may be an option for a single dose of doxycycline, which can help prevent Lyme disease in these situations – you would need to call your provider to discuss this option.
To make a primary care appointment, call 888-402-LVHN (5846).