The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADP) has issued multiple advisories in recent weeks, as Lyme disease becomes more and more of a threat throughout the state. The ADP has stated that it is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the country. Lyme disease is transmitted to humans and animals through tick bites. In Alabama, the specific tick species is the brown deer tick.
In Alabama in 2009, there were 3 confirmed cases of Lyme disease compared to 64 in 2014. As of November 2015, there have already been 23 confirmed cases. Calhoun, Jefferson, Mobile, Shelby, Russell and Tuscaloosa counties in Alabama have all been declared “endemic,” or counties where Lyme is regularly found among its population.
Although there has been a lot of media attention on Lyme disease in Alabama, it is not the most common tick borne disease. The reason for the media attention is that the treatment of Lyme disease is the same for other tick borne diseases. Dr. Dee Jones, a state veterinarian for the health department, says that people should not be concerned, but aware of what Lyme disease is, how to prevent it, and how to seek treatment.
Symptoms can include fever, headache, fatigue and a skin rash in the shape of a bull’s-eye around the tick bite. If these symptoms are not treated, infection can spread to joints, the heart and nervous system. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics over the course of a few weeks. Using bug spray and removing the tick as soon as possible after exposure are among some of the easiest ways to prevent contraction.
To conclude, wear bug spray and check yourself for ticks after being around trees or brush for any amount of time! To find out more about Lyme disease, visit Alabama Lyme Disease Association’s website.