Everything You Wanted to Know About Lyme Disease, but Were Afraid to Ask

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Questions about Lyme disease? Read our FAQ to learn how you can protect yourself.

What is Lyme disease?
How do you get it?
How do you know if you have Lyme disease?
Are there ticks in Chatham-Kent?
What do blacklegged ticks look like?
How can I protect myself from Lyme disease?
I found a tick on my body! What do I do?
I think I might have Lyme disease. Now what?

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is an illness caused by bacteria called Borrelia burdorferi.

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How do you get it?

Lyme disease is spread by the bite of an infected blacklegged tick.

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How do you know if you have Lyme disease?

Early symptoms of Lyme disease appear three to 30 days after a bite by an infected blacklegged tick. Most people experience flu-like symptoms, including:

Blacklegged ticks carry Lyme disease. Their bites cause a bullseye shaped rash.

A bullseye shaped rash often appears at the site of a tick bite.

• A rash at the site of the tick bite (sometimes shaped like a bullseye)
• Fever
• Chills
• Headache
• Muscle and joint pain
• Swollen lymph nodes

If Lyme disease is not treated, additional symptoms can appear months or even years later. These include:

• Additional skin rashes
• Severe headaches
• Facial paralysis
• Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat
• Dizziness or shortness of breath
• Confusion, memory loss and inflammation of the brain or spinal cord
• Shooting pains, numbness or tingling in hands and feet
• Arthritis and severe joint pain and swelling

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Are there ticks that carry Lyme disease in Chatham-Kent?

Yes. Ticks are commonly found in wooded, grassy areas throughout Chatham-Kent.

Most ticks found in Chatham-Kent are dog ticks, which do not carry Lyme disease. But blacklegged ticks can be found here too, especially in the Rondeau Park area.

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What do blacklegged ticks look like?

Blacklegged are the size of a sesame seed. They ticks look like this:

Adult blacklegged ticks carry Lyme disease

Once they’ve fed, they look like this:

Engorged ticks

Young ticks, which are called nymphs, can be as small as a pinhead and especially hard to spot. They look like this:

Blacklegged ticks carry Lyme disease

Always check yourself for ticks after spending time outdoors.

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How can I protect myself from Lyme disease?

Reduce the risk of Lyme disease, target ticksThe best way to protect yourself from Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. Here’s what you can do:

• Wear bug spray with DEET or Icaridin when outdoors
• Wear long sleeves and pants
• Avoid walking through long grass
• Shower within two hours of spending time outdoors and check yourself for ticks
• If you find a tick on your body, remove it with fine-point tweezers

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I found a tick on my body! What do I do?

If you find a tick on your body, remove it right away. Removing a tick within 24 to 36 hours can prevent infection.

Don’t kill or squish the tick! Use these steps to remove it:

1. Using a pair of fine-point tweezers, grasp the tick close to your skin
2. Gently but firmly, tug the tick straight up
3. Put the tick in a sealed container
4. Bring the tick to the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit at 435 Grand Ave W. A health inspector will identify what type of tick you found and let you know next steps.

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I think I might have Lyme disease. Now what?

If you think you have Lyme disease, see your doctor. Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics. Most people who receive prompt treatment recover quickly and completely.

Questions? Contact the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit at 519-352-7270, ext. 2920 or ckhealth@chatham-kent.ca.

For more information about Lyme disease, click here.

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