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The weather is absolutely beautiful at this time of year, and everyone wants to be outside.  Unfortunately, humans aren’t the only creatures who thrive in this type of warm summer environment.  Mosquitoes, wasps, and other insects are also out and about.  We can’t forget about the dreaded ticks either!

Many of us have experienced a tick bite at least once in our lives.  However, in recent years, it seems that the whole Lyme disease scare is more prevalent than ever.  The question is: Should we really be worried?

While being cautious isn’t exactly a bad thing, it’s easy to take this concern too far.  Here are some important points that may help to relieve your anxiety.

  • Based on CDC data, there have been fewer than 10 confirmed Lyme disease cases each year in the entire state of Kentucky.  (This information is based on the years of 2005-2010.)
  • Lyme disease is much more common in the Northeastern United States than in our region.
  • Empiric treatment for Lyme disease is not recommended for tick bites in this area.  Instead, you should simply be monitored for symptoms of Lyme disease, particularly the skin rash known as erythema migrans.  (Other typical symptoms include headache, fever, and fatigue.)  It is not recommended to routinely test for Lyme disease in people without clear symptoms.
  • More common tick-borne illnesses in this area include Ehrlichiosis and sometimes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  These conditions usually present themselves with a more acute illness combined with significant fever, muscle and joint pains, headache, and occasionally neurological symptoms and rash.  If your conditions fit this description, you should be evaluated by a physician.

As you can see, Lyme disease is actually not quite as common as your family, friends, neighbors, and other news sources might lead you to believe.  As with any situation, it’s important to get all of the facts before making any steep assumptions.  If, however, you have clear symptoms associated with Lyme disease or another tick-borne illness, schedule a consultation with your physician.