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5 myths about Lyme disease you need to know now

Runners are at risk for Lyme disease
Runners are at risk for Lyme disease
Photo by Handout/Getty Images

If you are a runner, bicyclist or other kind of outdoor enthusiast, you know that the summer brings hot days and a new set of rules to stay cool, hydrated and safe from the sun and other nuisances, such as bugs. Ticks that carry Lyme disease are a not only a nuisance, but a serious health risk and are often forgotten about in urban areas.

Lyme disease is quickly on the rise in America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 300,000 Americans contract the infection annually. Lyme disease is sometimes difficult to diagnose and is often misunderstood. Many of its symptoms mimic the flu and can mistakenly be left untreated. Waiting too long for a diagnosis allows the infection to spread throughout the entire body.

Here are five myths about Lyme disease to help keep you safe for summer:

Myth #1: Trails and wooded areas are the only places to worry about ticks.

Blacklegged ticks pick up the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria from birds, mice and other small mammals, not just deer. A higher deer population can create a boom in the amount of ticks, which means these ticks can be found just about anywhere, including your own backyard.

Myth #2: Your dog can contract Lyme disease and give it to you.

Your furry friend can contract Lyme but you can’t catch it directly from the dog. Treating your dogs with products such as Advantix II or Frontline Tritak can help prevent the dog from carrying a tick into your home.

Myth #3: If a tick bites you, you have Lyme.

American dog ticks and lone star ticks do not transmit Lyme disease. The ones you have to worry about are the blacklegged and western blacklegged ticks. However, these pesky critters are only a threat if they are infected. Often, the tick must be attached for one or two days before the bacteria can be transmitted. If a tick is spotted immediately and removed, the probability of infection is much lower.

Myth #4: Lyme disease brings a lifetime of chronic symptoms.

Although some people may have recurring or lasting symptoms, the CDC reports that only 10 to 20 percent of Lyme patients have symptoms that last longer than 6 months. Treating Lyme disease drastically lowers the chances of developing chronic symptoms.

Myth #5: There is always a bulls-eye rash when you are infected with Lyme disease.

Although this rash is a telltale sign of the disease, about 30% of cases don’t develop the rash, according to the CDC. Your immune system plays a role in how the rash presents itself. Some don’t get a rash at all, while others will get a raised, red rash that is not in a bulls-eye shape.