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Protect Yourself – Learn About Tickborne Diseases

Blacklegged Tick

Prevent Tick Bites

The best way to prevent tickborne diseases is to avoid places where ticks thrive, use a safe recommended repellent, dress protectively and check your clothes and body for ticks. It’s also important to know the symptoms and different ailments that tick bites can cause. Community Health providers find that too many people end up suffering longer than necessary from tickborne diseases because they don’t seek treatment even when they develop symptoms.

Know the Symptoms

In Vermont, reports of tickborne diseases are on the rise. While Lyme disease remains the most common tickborne disease in Vermont, other diseases like anaplasmosis and babesiosis are also being reported. Knowing the symptoms is important.

Anaplasmosis is a blood disease. The signs and symptoms of anaplasmosis may include:

  • fever
  • severe headache
  • muscle aches
  • chills and shaking

Less frequent symptoms of anaplasmosis include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, abdominal pain, cough, diarrhea, aching joints. Unlike Lyme disease, anaplasmosis doesn’t cause a rash. Onset of illness occurs 5 to 21 days after exposure to an infected tick.  It can be treated with an antibiotic.

Lyme disease, the most commonly reported tickborne disease, is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Typical symptoms include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • skin rash that looks like a bullseye

If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotic treatment.

Babesiosis is caused by an infection with a microscopic blood parasite. Often, those infected don’t experience any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they typically begin one to four weeks after a tick bite and can include fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea or fatigue.

Types of Ticks

Vermont’s Department of Health has identified 15 different species of ticks found in the state. Only six are known to transmit diseases. However, over 99% of all tickborne diseases reported to the Vermont Department of Health are caused by the blacklegged tick.

Check for Ticks and Remove Them

Do a Daily Check for Ticks

If you find a tick on your body, remove it quickly using these instructions from the Vermont Department of Health:

  1. With a steady motion, pull straight up until all parts of the tick are removed. Don’t twist or jerk the tick. Don’t be alarmed if the tick’s mouthparts stay in the skin.
  2. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or container, wrapping it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
  3. Clean your hands and the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.

You don’t need to go to your healthcare provider or the emergency room to have a tick

removed. If you have trouble removing the tick, or you can’t reach it, ask a family member or friend to help.

Prevent Tickborne Illness

The Vermont Department of Health’s tick bite prevention messaging is:

  • use repellent containing at least 30% DEET
  • wear long sleeves, long pants and a hat
  • check your clothing and body for ticks
  • avoid tick habitats
  • watch for symptoms of tickborne illness

See a healthcare provider if you get sick. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to avoid health problems related to tickborne diseases.

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