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May marks Lyme Disease Awareness month


May is national Lyme Disease Awareness month, giving activists and those suffering from Lyme disease a chance to spread information on how to prevent the disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control's website, Lyme disease is often found in the upper midwest and northeastern states in the United States, and is transferred through tick bites.

The CDC says 476,000 people are treated for Lyme disease each year, based on insurance records.

Liam Conlon is Lyme positive, and lives with the illness after a tick infected him.

"It's probably the sickest i've ever been," Conlon said. "I remember having a really intense fever, a lot of fever dreams. I was achy all the time and couldn't really keep food down."

According to Missouri's Department of Conservation's website, most ticks are active April–July. Ticks are part of the arachnid family and attach themselves to a host, feeding off their blood. They're often found in wooded areas, in the brush and grass. This includes a forest or a backyard.

According to the CDC's website, ticks find their hosts by positioning themselves on grass and shrubs on well used paths of animals. When brushed up on, ticks quickly grab onto a host and either bite right away or wander before finding a place to bite.

They then feed off the hosts blood.

Ryan Sheehan is the spokesman for the Columbia/Boone County Health Department.

"Not all ticks are infected," Sheehan said. "So a tick bite doesn't necessarily mean you'll get a disease."

Ticks can carry a variety of diseases including:

  • Lyme disease
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Babesiosis
  • Heartland virus

According to Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website, ticks are responsible for more human disease than any other insect.

Ticks are very effective at transferring disease due to the variety of animals they feed on. According to the Department of Health and Senior Services website, ticks transfer Lyme disease from field mice and onto a variety of hosts like deer or humans.

According to the Health Department's website, human case numbers per year for tickborne diseases are generally on the rise. Common tick-borne diseases in Missouri, according to the Department of Health and Senior Services, include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichiosis, Tularemia, and Heartland and Bourbon viruses

According to the department's website, signs and symptoms of a tickborne disease can vary on the type of disease and individuals.

A person should consider seeking treatment from a healthcare provider if they start to experience:

  • Sudden high fever
  • Severe headache
  • muscle and joint aches
  • vomiting

According to the Health Department's website, if these symptoms are happening after being exposed to a potential tick habitat, doctors need to know of that as well.

Another indication can be a rash at the site where someone may have been bit.

Conlon, an avid outdoorsman, said he tucks his pants into his socks after his diseased bite, and gives himself daily tick checks during tick season.

To prevent tick bites, the Department of Conservation recommends checking yourself often for ticks. That can be in the shower or following being in a place ticks have the potential to be at.

They also recommend using tick repellent, and tucking your pants into your socks.

"It's good just for them to take a shower and just do a tick check. And not only for humans It's also important to perform tick checks, on our pets as well, because sometimes the pets can bring in the ticks into the house," Dr. Andres Bran, MU Health Care infectious disease specialist, previously told ABC 17 News in April.

Article Topic Follows: Health

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Ethan Heinz


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