Massachusetts is a hot zone for Lyme
Disease, and the rate of infection is on the higher side in the area.
In Norfolk County, there were 278 cases of the tick-spread disease in
That number falls at 5.54 infected per 10,000 county residents. Compared to the state's overall average of 5-plus people per 10,000 infected in 2012, Norfolk County is in a relatively high risk area.
Disease affects more than 30,000 people in the US each year and is the
leading disease transmitted through bug bites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
How to protect yourself
Named for the town of Old Lyme in Connecticut where it was first discovered in 1975, Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection that occurs when an infected blacklegged tick, also known as a deer tick, attaches to and bites a host, passing along the bacteria.
Thirteen states in the Northeast and Midwest reported 96 percent of all cases of Lyme Disease in 2011. That’s because blacklegged ticks only live in those parts of the county, the CDC said. The ticks are most commonly found in moist, wooded or grassy areas.
Dr. Pritish Tosh of the Mayo Clinic recommends “checking [for] and removing ticks after outdoor activities, wearing protective clothing and using insect repellent.” A tick must be removed within 36-48 hours in order to prevent the transmission of bacteria.
The CDC recommends using fine-tipped tweezers to remove the tick, and experts said to contact your doctor if you develop signs of infection such as:
Red, expanding bulls-eye rash
Muscle and joint aches
Swollen lymph nodes
If you develop any of these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately, because the disease can be frustratingly difficult to nail down. Lyme Disease survivor Katina Makris told Patch she was misdiagnosed for five years.
“I called it my full life tsunami,” she said.
Then 42, Makris was bedridden with flu-like symptoms. She says that as a result, her marriage crumbled, she lost her job and then had to sell her house to pay for medical bills.
Avoid moist, humid environments and leafy areas where ticks like to live
Repel ticks with bug sprays, like DEET or Permethrin
Check your family and pets for ticks on a daily basis
Be alert for fever or rash, even if you don’t remember being bitten by a tick
Limit pets’ access to tick-infested areas, and use tick collars or spot treatment
Create tick-safe zones in your yard by raking up leaves, using a bug spray and discouraging deer