Be sure to do this to stay safe

Now that the summer season has arrived, an increasing number of New Jersey residents are being diagnosed with Lyme disease.

Pat Smith, president of the Jackson-based Lyme Disease Association, said that over the past two years there has been a backlog in reporting many cases due to the COVID pandemic.

“A lot of people haven’t taken the time or don’t want to be forced to go to the hospital or their doctor’s office to get diagnosed,” she said.

Lyme disease is an illness caused by a type of bacteria carried by ticks, often deer ticks that bite humans, and early symptoms can include fever, exhaustion, muscle pain, joint pain and neck stiffness.

There is now evidence that when some people are bitten by a lone star tick, they may develop an allergy to meat or meat products, including non-vegan cosmetics.

Not everyone gets a target

About 70% of people with Lyme disease also develop a red bulls-eye rash within seven to 14 days of being bitten.

If Lyme isn’t treated promptly with antibiotics, the disease can also cause long-term problems, including arthritis as well as heart and nerve problems.

Smith said many types of ticks are found in and near wooded areas, fields, and places with tall grass.

“Even if it’s your own backyard, maybe especially your own backyard, you need to do comprehensive tick checks,” she said.

Take off your clothes

When you do a tick check, take a shower to remove loose ticks and check your body.

Pets can also carry ticks.

“Animals will actually carry loose ticks into your home, and those ticks might fall off and then they might bite you,” she said.

The Lyme-COVID link

The federal government will review chronic Lyme and long COVID cases because many symptoms are similar and can complicate each other.

She said that although there is now more awareness of Lyme disease than before, many cases still seem to be misdiagnosed and undertreated.

According to New Jersey Department of Health, if you get Lyme disease and treatment begins quickly, antibiotic therapy for three to four weeks is usually effective. More advanced disease may require the administration of antibiotics through the vein (“IV” or “intravenous”) for four weeks or more.

Smith said the CDC lists New Jersey as having the third highest number of Lyme disease cases in the nation (after Pennsylvania and New York) and state health officials list Morris, Monmouth, Hunterdon , Warren, and Mercer as the top 5 Lyme disease counties, based on data collected in 2020.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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