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Healthwise: Lyme Disease

June 8, 2011

Achy muscles, headaches and fever might sound like symptoms brought on by flu, but they're also a few of the most common for Lyme disease.

They live on deer and you can pick them up on your skin and clothing just by walking through the grass. Not only are deer ticks a nuisance when they get stuck on your skin, they can also cause Lyme disease.

If you've been bitten by a deer tick it may be tricky to know if you have Lyme disease. Dr. David Mahoney, of Charlottesville Wellness Center, says you should look for flu-like symptoms, starting with a rash at the site of the bite.

“It's a red spot where the tick had bitten the person with a clearing around that spot and redness around that clearing. It essentially looks like a bulls-eye,” said Dr. Mahoney, who advises patients to pay attention to muscle aches, joint paint, arthritis, fever, nausea, and vomiting.

If you have have these warning signs Dr. Mahoney recommends getting checked out quickly.

“The main reason is that if Lyme disease goes untreated for a long period of time it can be difficult to eradicate from the body,” said Dr. Mahoney.

During your appointment the doctor will give you a blood test to determine if you have Lyme disease. If caught early enough you'll need to take an antibiotic called Doxycycline for 14-21 days. If left untreated you could have long term health problems.

“Lyme disease can develop into chronic arthritis. It can also affect other parts of the body including the brain and heart,” said Mahoney.

So, Dr. Mahoney stresses the importance of checking for ticks when you come from outdoors. He says taking a couple of minutes to look for deer ticks could keep you healthy and save you a trip to the doctor.

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