Preventing Lyme disease

Local News

With cases of Lyme disease becoming more common in New York, Dr. Colleen Fogarty discussed the symptoms you should look for and the preventative steps you can take Thursday during News 8 at Sunrise.

Dr. Fogarty, the Medical Director at Highland Family Medicine and the Associate Chair for Interprofessional Education and Practice, explained how Lyme disease is spread. “There’s a bacteria that the deer tick, or the ‘deer-legged tick’ can acquire from deer. Then when a tick bites a human, they transmit the bacteria and give us an infection.”

When it comes to symptoms for Lyme disease, there are a couple of tell tale signs. “Oftentimes, there is a classic rash — known as the ‘bullseye’ rash — that you might see on a leg or arm,” noted Dr. Fogarty. “Not everyone gets that rash, but soon that can be followed by fevers, a general sense of feeling ill and sometimes headaches.”

Deer ticks are found in meadows, woods and grassy areas. “If we’re outside hiking in the wilderness, which is great for our health, watch out for the ticks,” said Dr. Fogarty. “Generally, keep skin covered with long shirts or long pants. Some people do well tucking their pants into socks or into a hiking boot, to stop them from crawling up into your leg. Use DEET. It’s insect repellent that’s approved. Those can keep the ticks at bay as well.”

She added, “At the end of the day, do a full body tick check. Take off your clothes in a place where you know the ticks aren’t going to crawl away, and then look at your skin. Look in the mirror. Make sure there’s none tucked in crevices behind the knees, behind the elbows or down at the ankles. If you do find a tick, it’s important to remove the tick right away. Don’t panic. It takes at least 24-48 hours for a tick to stay attached to transmit the infection. Early detection and early removal of that tick are your best bet to avoid Lyme.”

If you recognize the symptoms of Lyme disease or feel that you’ve been infected, visit your health care clinician.

For more information about Lyme disease, click here.

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