What do bedbugs, hantavirus, Zika virus and Lyme disease have in common for somebody who lives in Arizona?  One answer to this is, “stuff you never used to have to worry about, but now you do.”

It seems that over the last fifteen years we have been inundated with health concerns about bedbugs, hanta and Zika viruses. Each year, the warnings are issued and we brace ourselves for yet another change to our lifestyle at the hands of these dangerous newcomers to our beloved Southwest Desert.  

Lyme disease is the latest bad guy that is making inroads into Arizona. Researchers are looking at mild winters, bumper crops of acorns, massive increases in rodent populations and have been connecting this with Lyme disease spreading across the nation.

Immediate symptoms of Lyme disease are not always obvious. Although in a number of cases, a tick bite will present itself as a bullseye like wound, this is not always true. Flu like symptoms may or may not follow, accompanied by issues with short term memory, chronic joint inflammation, facial palsy, heart issues and inflammation of the spinal cord and brain.

Because it’s such a new problem on our radar, many people are ignoring the risk.

What can you do to minimize your chances of getting Lyme disease?

  • If you have been around ticks, or areas that might have ticks in them, it is imperative that you and a trusted partner perform a thorough body check for ticks after a potential exposure. Special attention must be paid to armpits, scalp and groin for ticks. They can be very small, so attention to detail is a must.
  • If you find a tick, remove it immediately. Use tweezers and pull it out by the head. This should be sufficient for most circumstances, as it takes 36-48 hours for the tick to transmit the disease.
  • If you missed this window see a doctor, but not immediately. It takes several weeks for the antibodies to develop in your system. False positive tests can give you an unwarranted sense of security. Wait about 4-6 weeks before testing.
  • If you test positive, rest assured that antibiotics will usually render the disease harmless.
  • If symptoms linger, this is considered a case of post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.

Although it is not clear what causes this, delayed immune response or another illness altogether, experts are divided. Until a vaccine is developed and made available we will have to wait to see what science brings us in the form of relief.

Learn more about Lyme Disease
Arizona Lyme Disease Association

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