Archived Story

Prevention best way to deal with Lyme disease

Published 5:23pm Friday, August 23, 2013

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday that the numbers for Lyme disease nationally are 10 times higher than previously reported, there have been no reported cases of the disease in Beaufort County this year, according to a local health official.

That doesn’t mean people (and pets) in Beaufort County should not take precautions to avoid contracting the disease, said Vanessa Greene, a registered nurse who is the communicable-disease controller with the Beaufort County Health Department.

“We’ve had no cases locally. In the state last year, there were 127 cases that were reported, and 33 of those cases were confirmed cases of Lyme disease, and 94 were probable cases for 2012,” Greene said. “The bigger story I think is prevention. If you’re outside, you need to wear long pants, long shirts and use repellant with DEET in it. Stay away from areas where there are ticks — and check yourself if you’ve been outside to make sure you don’t have ticks on you. See a physician in you have a flu-like illness after you’ve been exposed to a tick.”

Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by bacteria that is carried and transmitted by ticks. It can cause fatigue, fever, joint pain, kidney damage, lethargy, loss of appetite, neurologic disorders and trouble walking. Lyme disease is treatable, but as with most problems, the sooner it is caught, the better. If left untreated, it is potentially fatal.
While the CDC’s newest numbers estimate the number of Americans diagnosed with Lyme disease each year is approximately 300,000 people, veterinarians remind people that their pets are susceptible to Lyme disease as well.
Here are some things veterinarians recommend to ensure pets are protected:
• Talk with your veterinarian about vaccinating your pet against Lyme disease.
• Talk with your veterinarian about the best way to prevent fleas and ticks from latching on to your pet.
• Consider an oral medication for your pet — a pill that’s given once a month or spot-on medications, medicated shampoos, powders, tick dips or tick collars.
• Inspect your pet for ticks if they have been outside near wooded areas.
• If a tick is found, take tweezers and remove the tick as close to the body of the pet as possible, trying to get the head of the tick out.
• If your pet is not acting right, take him or her to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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