Anne Arundel County is a high-risk area for Lyme disease and Maryland is one of 17 Northeast and Upper Midwest states with high-risk jurisdictions. More than 100 cases of Lyme disease are reported in Anne Arundel County annually. Last year, 102 confirmed or probable cases were reported. The Anne Arundel County Department of Health provides information about Lyme disease—and the blacklegged tick that causes it—on www.aahealth.org.
The Department of Health strongly urges parents of young children to monitor outdoor activities and carefully check their clothing, skin and hair when coming indoors. The following tips will help to protect you and your family from ticks that may cause Lyme disease or other tick-borne illnesses:
• In tick infested areas, wear light colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into your socks. Spray your arms and legs with an insect repellent containing 20 to 30 percent DEET. Always follow product instructions.
• Clear leaves, brush and tall grass around houses and at the edge of gardens.
• After coming indoors, remove clothing and wash and dry it at a hot temperature.
Although the tick needs to be on a person for at least 24 hours before the individual becomes infected, the sooner the tick is removed the better. If you find a tick on your skin:
• Use sharp, pointed tweezers to grasp the tick as closely to the skin as possible and pull straight out, gently but firmly.
• You may save the tick for identification through the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Do not put the tick in alcohol if you plan to have it identified. Access the instructions at http://mda.maryland.gov/plants-pests/Documents/tickid.pdf.
• To dispose of a live tick, submerge it in alcohol. Place tick in a bag or container, seal bag or container very tightly, and toss it out. Do not smash the tick.
• Clean the bite with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose because there may be no symptoms or there could be symptoms, such as headaches, fever and tiredness, that mimic other diseases. Consult with your health care provider. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics in the early stages. Sometimes within three days to one month after the bite, a “bull’s eye rash” of red circles appears, spreading from the tick bite. If left untreated, the infection can lead to serious illness of the heart, joints and nervous system.