Ask Dr. Pat

Dr. Pat Consults: Preventing the Perils of Summer

Lyme Disease
Jason Kendler, M.D.

In addition to good weather, beach days and fun, summer unfortunately also brings a hazard into some our lives in the form of ticks.  For those of us who spend time in wooded areas that surround New York City, these small creatures can pose a real threat by their ability to transmit nasty infections.  Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis and Babesiosis are the names of some of the tick-borne illnesses that are seen when warm weather comes to the northeastern United States. By early June, I had already treated two patients for tick-borne disease in my medical practice.

So what can you do to prevent these infections? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has several suggestions: walking in the center of trails through the woods, the use of insect repellent that contains 20 percent to 30 percent DEET, and most important, performing a very thorough, full-body tick search after being outdoors. Since a tick needs to be attached for at least 36 to 48 hours to transmit Lyme disease in most cases, removing a tick within 24 hours of attachment can prevent infection.  

If you should find a tick attached to your skin, you should contact your doctor.  Prompt tick removal and sometimes a timely dose of an antibiotic can prevent some of the illnesses that are mentioned above.  

You should certainly call your doctor if you develop any symptoms of tick-borne illness, which include fatigue, chills, fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, swollen glands or rash.  Because ticks are small, their bite is painless, and because they fall off after feeding, you may not always know that you have been bitten by a tick. Fortunately, infection transmitted by ticks is treatable in most instances.

So enjoy your summer. But if you spend time in the country, do your best to avoid tick bites, make sure you do a tick search every night, and contact your doctor if you find a tick or develop any symptoms suggestive of tick-borne illness. 

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  • Diane Dettmann July 6, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    Thanks so much, Dr. Pat for the helpful reminders. Living in rural Minnesota, deer ticks are a daily concern when working in the garden or walking in the woods. Knowing what to watch for really helps!

    Reply
  • Roz Warren July 6, 2015 at 9:41 am

    Terrific advice! Thanks.

    Reply