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Lyme disease cases surge in the US, prompts attention from health authorities

Lyme disease cases surge in the US

United States: The United States has been witnessing an upsurge in Lyme disease cases. Following the upsurge in the cases, the Lyme disease was addressed by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The most common symptom of the disease is a rash at the site of the tick bite – classically with a bull’s-eye rash. However, the symptoms are not always the same.

While addressing the same, the director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory at Mayo Clinic – Dr Bobbi Pritt, said, “Also, some people may have a rash and not know if it’s on the back of their head or another hard-to-see and hard-to-reach area. If the infection is not treated right away, the patient may then progress to having other symptoms, like disseminated rashes, joint pain, arthritis, and even neurologic involvement. And they can even have one-sided facial paralysis, called Bell’s palsy.”

If an individual is dealing with symptoms linked to Lyme disease, the person must undergo testing, according to health experts.

Need of medical assistance!

The health expert has underlined that medical attention is not required when a tick is found and removed promptly. Dr Pritt mentioned, “If a patient lives in an area where there’s a lot of Lyme disease, finding a tick that’s been attached to them for more than 24 hours, ideally more than 36 hours, that in and of itself is enough to prompt them to go to their physician to see if they should get some antibiotics to prevent Lyme disease,” as per Mayo Clinic.

A tick bite – classically with a bull’s-eye rash

She continued and explained that if someone were to present with any illness during the spring, summer, or fall months when they have been exposed to ticks — where they may have a rash, a headache, or a fever — those could all be signs of tick-borne diseases, Lyme disease, and other diseases. And that should prompt them to go to their physician.

What are the possible ways for prevention?

Dr Pritt, while addressing ways for prevention, mentioned that people must protect themselves from tick bites, and the best way to do so is to not get a tick bite. According to her, avoiding tick bites will offer protection not only against Lyme disease but also from other tick-borne infections.

She can be quoted saying, “I also like oil of lemon eucalyptus, shown by the Environmental Protection Agency to be almost as effective as DEET, and smells a little better. Also, wearing permethrin sprayed on clothing is helpful. That also will repel and even kill ticks. Then, just cover up with clothing so that the ticks can’t get to your skin. If you tuck your pants into your socks, you’re taking away an avenue for ticks to get to your legs to bite you.”

How do experts explain the infection?

Dr Pritt, following a rapid increase in the cases in 2022, explained that the new Lyme disease case definition allows us to get a more accurate count of Lyme disease cases in high-incidence areas, which will improve our understanding of Lyme disease and its impact on people living in the United States.

Black-legged tick (left) and a spot with its bite (right) | Credits: Getty Images

It is to be noted that Lyme disease is commonly caused by a bite from an infected black-legged tick, which is known as a deer tick.

In the United States, the most affected regions are the Upper Midwest and the Northeast, as well as mid-Atlantic states. Despite the US, the disease is also found in Asian, European, south-central, and southeastern Canadian countries.

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