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Ticked Off: What you need to know about Lyme disease

The CDC warns this year could be an especially bad one when it comes to ticks. The number of tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease is increasing at a record pace. Here's how to protect yourself and your family.

Fatigue, fever, muscles aches, nausea all sounds like the symptoms of COVID, but they’re actually the symptoms of Lyme disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns this year could be an especially bad one when it comes to ticks. In fact, the CDC says the number of tick-borne diseases, like Lyme disease, is increasing at a record pace.

“I haven’t felt back to normal since the second grade,” said Olivia Goodreau, a Lyme disease patient.

Lyme disease literally took the breath away from 17-year-old Olivia.

“I started to lose my vision and I couldn’t physically hold up my head,” she said.

These are just a few of the symptoms many people experience when they get Lyme disease.

The CDC estimates 476,000 Americans are treated for it every year. A tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted. A tick’s salvia can carry at least 18 tick-borne pathogens. That’s why it’s important if you are bit by a tick to get tested for other diseases as well.

Ways to help protect yourself include:

  • Apply insect repellent with a 20% or higher concentration of Deet.
  • Cover up when in wooded or grassy areas
  • Wear shoes, long pants tucked into your socks, a long-sleeved shirt, a hat, and gloves.
  • Tick-proof your yard by clearing brush and leaves where ticks live
  • Be sure to regularly check yourself, your children, and your pets for ticks.

Yale researchers are working on a vaccine that would cause the area bitten to immediately become itchy and inflamed, giving someone a chance to remove a tick before it has time to transmit Lyme or many other diseases.

But until then, if you do find a tick, remove it as soon as possible with tweezers. Gently grasp the tick near its head. Don’t squeeze or crush the tick but pull carefully and steadily. Once you’ve removed the entire tick, dispose of it by putting it in alcohol or flushing it down the toilet and then apply antiseptic to the bite area.