Protecting Yourself from Lyme Disease

Sarah Howard | May 22, 2017
Assistant Professor Jonathan Oliver
Assistant Professor Jonathan Oliver

Deer ticks are found across Minnesota and they carry a number of diseases, including Lyme disease. We asked tickborne researcher Jonathan Oliver how we can protect ourselves.

“There’s definitely been an increase in the number of tickborne diseases in Minnesota over the last 20 or more years,” says Oliver. He credits the increase to the spread of deer ticks.

Oliver says about 30 percent of adult ticks carry the bacteria for Lyme disease, which is transmitted from deer ticks to humans after the tick bites and has a number of symptoms including fever and fatigue and, if left untreated, can spread to the joints, the heart, or the nervous system. “This is by far the most significant tickborne disease in the country and in Minnesota,” he says.

“To protect yourself from tickborne diseases, check regularly after you’ve been in tick habitats, mainly forested areas,” says Oliver. If you find you have a tick attached, Oliver says you should use a pair of tweezers to pull the tick off of the skin.

“It takes at least 24 hours for the Lyme disease bacteria to be transmitted into your body,” Oliver says. So as long as you’re checking regularly and you’re sure the tick has been attached for less than 24 hours, he says you have a low chance of being infected with Lyme disease.

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