Tick-borne illnesses are diagnosed primarily on symptoms and whether or not the patient has been exposed to tick habitats. If a tick-borne illness is diagnosed, the majority of cases can be successfully treated using antibiotics particularly if treatment starts early. Tick season is far from over.
Although Lyme disease, found in the Northeast, North Central and Pacific Coast, is the most prevalent and commonly reported tick-borne illness there are others including: • Babesiosis infection found in the Northeast, Midwest and Northwest • Ehrlichiosis infection found in the East, Southeast and Central • Rocky Mountain spotted fever found in the Southeast and Atlantic Coast • Southern tick-associated rash illness found in the Southeast and Atlantic Coast • Tick-borne relapsing fever found in the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Coast • Tularemia infection found in all states except Hawaii
The key to all tick-borne illnesses are presenting symptoms and possible exposure to tick-infested habitats. Those are the two primary criteria used to diagnose a tick-borne illness. The common symptoms associated with tick-borne illnesses include: • Fever and chills • Headache and fatigue • Aches and muscle/joint pains • Rash, including the bulls-eye rash of Lyme disease
The most effective means of avoiding tick-borne illness is to avoid exposure to tick habitat. Ticks tend to populate at the edge of brushy, shady areas especially in and around tall grass in wooded areas. There are several precautions to take when exposing yourself to tick habitats including: • Avoid tall grassy and brush areas • Walk on clear paths or trails • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers/pants tucked into your socks • Check your entire body for ticks and shower after moving around in tick habitat
After being bitten by a tick, symptoms may develop and warrant a visit to a healthcare provider. Lyme disease, if left untreated, can affect the joints, heart and nervous system. The bottom line is if you have visited a tick habitat and have developed any of the symptoms noted above seek professional medical assistance. Don’t take a chance. Seek medical assistance.