Lyme disease has been discovered in Tazewell County.
The Tazewell County Health Department is investigating three cases of Lyme disease with local exposure, meaning the tick bites that caused the illnesses occurred in Tazewell County.
“Normally, they’ve been in Wisconsin or Minnesota when they were bitten by the tick. And, they’ve come home, and two or three weeks later the rash appears, and they start getting sick,” says Sara Sparkman with the Tazewell County Health Department.
Lyme disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected deer tick, which is also known as the black-legged tick.
Sparkman says if you know you’ve been bitten by a tick, watch for a bulls-eye rash.
“That’s the Lyme disease indicator. It doesn’t always appear, but most of the time, about 80-to-90 percent of the time, the bulls-eye will appear with a rash.”
Sparkman says if a rash appears, call your doctor right away so that you can be tested for Lyme disease.
The rash is often accompanied by one or more nonspecific symptoms: fatigue, chills and fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and joint and muscle pain.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, ticks can attach to any part of the 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 to 48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted.
As the summer weather warms up and people spend more time outdoors, the Tazewell County Health Department reminds residents about the importance of taking precautions against tick diseases.
“Wear light-colored, protective clothing — long-sleeved shirts, long pants, boots or sturdy shoes — and cover your head,” said Sparkman.
She also says to apply insect repellent containing 10-to-30 percent DEET primarily to clothes. Walk in the center of trails so weeds don’t brush against you. And, check yourself, family members, and pets every two to three hours for ticks.
When removing ticks, grasp them with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible and firmly pull them straight out. Then, wash your hands and the tick bite site with soap and water.
For more information about Lyme disease prevention, click HERE.