Making Time for Lyme

08/05/2018
Since 2004, cases of Lyme disease have more than tripled.

By Lou Ann Bruno-Murtha, DO, Division Chief, CHA Infectious Disease

As summer is in full swing, outdoor activities bring fun and exercise as well as tick-borne diseases, unfortunately. The most common tick-borne illness regionally is Lyme disease. Since 2004, cases of Lyme disease have more than tripled nationwide. Massachusetts is among one of the 10 states with the highest number of cases reported in nearly every city and town. Now is a perfect moment to review the symptoms of Lyme disease and learn about prevention and treatment.

Prevention

When you are spending time outside, walking, hiking or riding your bike, pay attention to heavily wooded or grassy areas for those are the spots where ticks are most commonly found. For folks enjoying outdoor activities, we recommend protective clothing, application of insect repellent containing DEET (products with 24% DEET are effective up to 5 hours) and daily tick checks. When you return home, wash clothing on high heat and take a hot shower if you believe that you had contact with ticks. Also, remember to give your animal a quick tick check because they tend to hide on pets.

Lyme Disease Transmission and Illness

Lyme is spread by the black-legged deer tick. The longer the tick is attached to the skin, the greater chance of infection. The tick must be attached for more than 36 hours for infection to occur.

The incubation period ranges from 3-30 days and the most common finding is a ring-like rash. This may be accompanied by a headache, tiredness, fever, muscle pain and chills. If you or a loved one believe that you have been infected by a tick, please call your doctor’s office immediately.

Treatment

Individuals treated with the correct antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover completely. Antibiotics typically used include amoxicillin, doxycycline and cefuroxime axetil. People with certain cardiac problems may need intravenous treatment with antibiotics.

If you are concerned about Lyme, contact Cambridge Health Alliance by calling 617-665-1305 or visit www.challiance.org/cha/find-a-doctor.

Cambridge Health Alliance

Contributed By: Cambridge Health Alliance

Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health care system committed to serving all members of our communities. We have expertise in primary care, mental health and substance abuse, and caring for diverse and complex populations. CHA patients receive high quality care in convenient neighborhood locations, and have seamless access to advanced care through CHA’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. With over 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville Everett and Boston’s Metro North, CHA is working hard to offer the integrated services its communities need now, and in the future.