Nothing is worse than a summer flu. Everyone else is out enjoying the sun and warm weather. You’re trapped in your house. Your joints hurt and seem swollen. You don’t have an appetite? And the headache? Oh good grief, the headache. It hurts to breathe. You’ve got both a fever and chills. And it lingers. Maybe it’s just that bug that went around at the office?
Maybe it’s Lyme disease? Nah, you don’t have a bulls-eye rash.
We’re often told about the bulls-eye rash being THE symptom of Lyme disease but actual bulls-eye rashes only present in about half the known cases. Usually, a rash will occur near the bite and expand outwards. It becomes a “bulls-eye” only if it starts to heal. The rash may or may not heal in that pattern or at all by the time you’ve found it. Another symptom of a Lyme infection is facial paralysis, like Bell’s Palsy.
Can’t be Lyme, you haven’t been outside in weeks!
Symptoms of Lyme may present days or weeks after the infected tick has bitten you.
So what do you do? If you suspect you may have Lymes or at least want to rule it out, you can head to your doctor or for non-emergency services appointment. Tell them your symptoms and if you had a rash, make sure you tell them of the rash. They’ll do a blood draw. They’ll also likely start you on antibiotics right away while they wait for your test results.
New England is a hotbed of Lyme-related infections. Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and even Rhode Island, Connecticut and as far south as Pennsylvania are leading the reports, which are tracked by the CDC.
The best defense is a good offense. Ticks don’t jump like fleas. They either drop down onto their targets or climb on via contact. You can reduce the chance of contact by staying in the middle of walking paths, avoiding walking through bushes or other vegetation. Ticks will climb your clothing until they find skin. You can tape or tuck clothing to reduce skin access.
One you’ve finished your day out, throw your clothes into a dryer on high heat setting for about ten minutes. This will kill any ticks on your clothing. While showering, look for any unusual spots that may look like bits of dirt, freckles or moles. If you feel any little bumps, make sure you check those too: especially good hiding places for ticks on the body are the armpits, hairline, groin, and behind the ears and the navel.