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May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

While it's great that the weather has warmed up, Maryland state officials want to make sure the public knows to beware of ticks. They can spread Lyme disease, which is the third most common disease in the state.

Lyme disease is tricky to diagnose because symptoms look like the flu. People typically get a fever, headaches, muscle and joint soreness, and fatigue.

Darlene Armacost, program manager for Communicable Disease and Preparedness in Frederick County, says that there are a number of ticks that spread diseases, like Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain, other spotted fever diseases, and tularemia. Most can be cured with antibiotics, especially when caught early. This is part of the reason why it is key to check for ticks every time you go into your yard, walk through tall grass and hike in wooded areas.

Here are some tips Armacost offered:

  • Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Create a tick barrier by tucking your pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants.
  • Bug spray can deter ticks. Make sure to follow the directions on the product.
  • Also make sure to check your pets when they come inside. Ticks like most warm-blooded mammals, like dogs and cats.

To remove a tick, do NOT paint any nail polish on it or use a match or petroleum jelly to try to get it to detach. Instead, take a regular pair of fine-tipped tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Do NOT twist or jerk it off. Instead, lift directly way from your skin with steady, even pressure. After removing the tick and any mouth parts that may still remain on your skin, wash the spot with soap and water, or use rubbing alcohol or iodine scrub. For details and drawings, visit the Center for Disease Control's website.


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