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Lyme disease threat up in UP

WASHINGTON – Lyme disease cases in the Upper Peninsula have increased in recent years, making it is essential to protect yourself and pets from ticks, according to the Western Upper Peninsula District Health Department.

People heading out to enjoy the beauty of the U.P. should remember the increased temperature also brings out ticks, which can harbor a wide variety of diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and anaplasmosis.

Lyme disease is caused by a bite from a tick, typically a deer tick, infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease is easily preventable and can be treated with antibiotics if identified early.

Pets can also harbor ticks. Check pets regularly and remove ticks before they can be brought into your home. Consider using tick control products recommended by your veterinarian.

A failure to do so could be fatal to your pets, as a Chassell resident recently found out.

“I just lost my dog to Lyme’s disease,” said Friederike Gast. “She ended up with kidney failure. I had no idea Lyme disease was so present until my dog got it.”

Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected black-legged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic ‘bull’s-eye’ skin rash. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings, and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics.

Ticks can attach to any part of the human body but are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp. In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted.

Most humans are infected through the bites of immature ticks called nymphs. Measuring less than 2 millimeters, nymphs are tiny and difficult to see. They feed during the spring and summer months. Adult ticks can also transmit Lyme disease bacteria, but they are much larger and are more likely to be discovered and removed before transmitting the bacteria.

If you find a tick attached to your skin, there’s no need to panic.

To remove a tick from your body, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull with steady, even pressure. After removing the tick, clean the bite area and your hands with antiseptic. Monitor the site for a large, reddish rash, often called a bull’s-eye rash, which may appear and expand around the site of the tick bite. If you see a bull’s-eye rash around the site of a tick bite, or experience any of the symptoms mentioned below, see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Anyone with a known tick bite or who has been in a tick habitat should watch for symptoms for at least 30 days after the exposure. In addition to the bull’s-eye rash, initial signs and symptoms of Lyme disease mimic the flu and include fever, headache, nausea, fatigue, and muscle aches that appear a few days after the bite. If symptoms develop, call your physician. The initial symptoms may clear up and then reappear. Some people infected with Lyme disease will show no symptoms at all during the first month of infection. Secondary symptoms can begin to appear weeks or months after the initial tick bite and may include heart and nervous system problems, meningitis, facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy), as well as pain in the joints, tendons, and muscles.

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