MICHIGAN, USA — The state of Michigan released an alert which labeled Lyme disease as an emerging disease issue.
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia Burgdoferi and is transmitted by black-legged ticks. Without proper treatment, experts like Kent County Health Department's Brian Hartl said it can lead to numbness of the face, heart issues and swelling of the brain, as well as other life-changing effects.
Hartl, an epidemiologist, said Kent County averages about eight cases of Lyme disease per year and he has noticed a small increase over recent years. He added that a majority of ticks can be found in lakeshore areas.
When embedded with an infected tick for around 24 to 36 hours, Hartl said humans have the chance of developing Lyme disease.
"The bacteria can infect an individual and then about three to 30 days after that, people can get just kind of flu-like symptoms: fever, headache, chills, body aches, things like that, and then they can potentially develop a rash at the site of the tick bite, which we call the bulls-eye rash. It kind of looks like a bulls-eye -- it's got a ring and redness in the middle," he explained.
People can prevent chances of getting embedded by black-legged ticks by covering up with clothing when in tick-heavy areas like tall grass and lakeshores, showering, using bug spray, treating your clothing with permethrin and routinely checking for ticks on clothing and the body.
People who have been embedded with a tick should follow careful guidelines and use tweezers to steadily remove the entire tick from the skin.
Ticks can be tested via photos or bringing them into a local health department. For guidelines over submitting ticks, click here.
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