Public Health Fact Sheet
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial illness that causes rash, flu-like symptoms, joint pain, malaise and nervous system disorders. If left untreated the symptoms may become chronic and debilitating.
How is Lyme Disease spread?
Lyme disease is spread through the bite of an infected tick. The tick attaches to a host animal (wild or domestic) such as a deer, field mouse, or bird that may be infected. Once the tick releases itself carrying the bacteria, it attaches itself to a new host which could be a human. The tick must be attached more than 24 hours to transfer the bacteria to its new host.
What do I do if I am exposed or notice symptoms?
If you have been bitten by a tick and develop symptoms, see your doctor immediately. Antibiotics can be given to kill the bacteria and may help prevent complications. You may submit ticks you find on your person, alive if possible, to the Livingston County Health Department for testing and identification.
How is Lyme Disease Treated?
Antibiotics can cure infection and prevention complications. Treatment is most effective in the early stages.
How can I prevent Lyme Disease?
- Avoid areas that are tick infested, moist, brushy, wooded or overgrown with low lying vegetation.
- Wear light colored clothing that covers arms and legs so that ticks can be more easily seen and removed. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots.
- Apply insect repellant containing DEET to clothing and exposed skin or permethrin to clothing, following manufacturer’s recommendations.
- When working or playing in wooded or grassy areas, check your body and clothing frequently for ticks.
- When a tick is found, remove it by firmly gripping the body close to the skin with a pair of tweezers and pull straight out. Cleanse the area with soap and water.
- After removal, keep tick in a sealed container with a moist paper towel and contact the health department for assistance regarding tick identification and testing.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
- "Bulls eye" rash
- Muscle and joint aches