Lyme Disease: How can I prevent it?


We are spending our next holiday in the New Forest. We have been warned that the ticks there carry Lyme Disease. What can we do?

Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:

Lyme Disease is caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacteria that is transmitted by ticks. The disease starts off as a flu-like illness, and sometimes there is a circular rash around the site of the tick bite. The best way to prevent it is by protecting yourself against bites. Use insect repellents and inspect yourself and your children carefully every night. Ticks are very small - about the size of a poppy seed - and if you find any attached to the skin, gently grip them with tweezers near to the skin and steadily pull them out. Ticks that are removed within the first 24 hours do not transmit the bacteria. If you think you may have got infected, or if you develop any symptoms in the weeks and months after your holiday, see a doctor for a blood test. When it's treated early with antibiotics, Lyme Disease is easy to cure. If it's neglected it can become much more stubborn.

Please mail your questions for Dr Fred to health@independent.co.uk. He regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.

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