You’ve probably heard of Lyme disease, commonly spread by wood and deer ticks, but you may not know that you can also get it from fleas, flies, mosquitoes, or red ants. All of these insects can carry the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, which causes Lyme disease.
Lyme disease can be fatal if left untreated. Symptoms include a red bull’s-eye-like ring around a bite received from the aforementioned insects, a rash (only about 1/3 of affected people develop a rash), flu-like symptoms, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, fever, chills, swollen glands, sore throat, stiff neck, memory loss, depression, tremors, and seizures. In some cases, Bell’s Palsy can develop and cause the face to droop on one side. If symptoms are left untreated and diagnosis is delayed, Lyme disease can develop into arthritic, cardiac, neurological, digestive, and psychiatric disorders.
Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent Lyme disease. If you plan on visiting a wooded area, or a place with knee-length grass, it’s best to wear pants, as it can be easier to spot ticks on clothing than on skin. When checking for ticks, comb through your hair with a fine-tooth comb. Check your entire body. It takes up to 24 hours for a tick to become attached to your skin, so taking a shower is a good way to wash away any loose ticks. If possible, tumble dry any clothes you wore that day.
If you find a tick attached to your skin, don’t panic—it takes about 36 hours for a tick to transmit Lyme disease, and not all ticks are carriers.