June 2012 Newsletter Article: Ticks and Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease is an illness that can cause flu-like symptoms, sore joints, and chronic heart and nervous system problems. It is diagnosed in people of all ages, including children. Lyme Disease is endemic throughout Massachusetts, meaning it’s not something you get just on Cape Cod or when you go for a hike. You can get it from a tick in your own backyard.
Deer ticks, which spread Lyme Disease, range in size from a poppy seed to a sesame seed. They are most active during the warmer months, but can infect people at any time of year. They cling to vegetation, but cannot jump. Most are found in brushy, grassy or wooded habitats.
To prevent Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, use a bug repellant with DEET or permethrin according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30 percent or less on older children. Permethrin products are intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, and camping gear. They should not be applied to skin.
Check your body for ticks after being outside. Pay special attention to areas between the toes, back of the knees, groin, armpits, neck, along the hairline and behind the ears. Remove ticks as soon as you find them using a pair of fine point tweezers to grip the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull straight out with steady pressure.
Know the signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease. Treatment during the early stages often prevents more serious chronic health complications later. The most common early symptom is a rash where the tick was attached. It often, but not always, starts as a small red area that spreads outward, clearing up in the center so it looks like a donut. This is commonly known as a “bull’s eye rash.” Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, stiff neck, sore and aching muscles and joints, fatigue and swollen glands may also occur. Most people are treated with antibiotics and recover. If you have been someplace likely to have ticks and you develop symptoms of Lyme disease, or any other disease carried by ticks, see your health care provider right away.
For more information about ticks, mosquitoes, and the diseases they cause, visit the Massachusetts Department of Public Health website at www.mass.gov/dph Click on “Public Health Fact Sheets” on the right side of the page and choose the topic you are interested in learning more about.
Medication Reminder: All medication orders expire at the end of the school year. If you are visiting your child’s health care provider during the summer, consider requesting a new medication order for the school nurse. All medication, prescription or over-the-counter, requires an order. The Medication Permission Form and the Medication Policy are both available online at http://newtonma.gov/gov/health/school.asp
Get the flu vaccine, not the flu! Seasonal influenza vaccine will be offered this fall during the school day to students and employees. Both the flu shot and the nasal spray flu vaccine will be available to all students in Kindergarten through grade 12, by parental consent only. Consent and screening forms will be posted at www.newtonma.gov/flu in September, in preparation for the October clinics. Insurance information will be requested, but all students are welcome to receive the vaccine at no charge Get the flu vaccine, not the flu!
Have a happy and healthy summer!