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- The ARC - California Edition -

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Health Alert - Lyme Disease

Health officials of Los Angeles County announced that a number of ticks collected early this spring in Charmlee County Park west of Malibu had tested positive for Lyme disease. 

Lyme disease is a very serious disorder and is often difficult to diagnose. The early stages of the disease usually includes flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle pain, joint pain and a red, blotchy skin rash. 

Lyme disease is readily treated with antibiotics, however without treatment, the symptoms can progress into heart or nervous system disorders. 

Most cases each year are contracted during the spring and early summer months at the time when the tick is in its nymphal stage. In addition to Lyme disease, ticks are known to carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, encephalitis, tularemia, tick paralysis, and quite a few other very serious infections.

Lyme disease is important to the Arc-California Health Promotion and Disability Prevention committee for two extraordinary reasons. 

Persons with a disability who are in programs involving travel in outdoor rural areas may find it difficult to identify or describe their possible exposure to ticks. 

Pregnant women should be especially careful to avoid ticks in Lyme disease areas because the infection can be transferred to their unborn children.

Caregivers should take special steps to minimize the risk of getting this disease.


Avoid threatening locations: Ticks most commonly are found in grassy pastures, prairies, swamps, and wooded areas. If you choose to or must invade their territory, then you should stick to the center of YOUR trails and avoid any direct contact with the surrounding plant growth as much as you possibly can.

Cover yourself up: Wear light-colored clothing with long trousers and long-sleeved shirts. Protect your feet with socks, use closed-toed shoes, and wear a hat. Close your shirt cuffs and your shirt collar buttons. Tuck your shirt into your pants and then stuff your pants into your socks.

Use a bug repellent: There are a number of bug repellents, which when sprayed on clothing, or on the skin of the person, works to keep these disease carriers at bay. The more effective repellents contain the active ingredient diethyl toluamide, commonly called DEET. For adults, use a repellent containing 20-30% DEET for clothing. Avoid eyes and mouth area. Use sparingly on children under the age of ten, and never use on children under two.

Do a full body check: Finally, after an outing in an area where these critters are common, make sure you do a full body check. Ticks can be imbedded in the scalp and genital area, locations that are not normally examined. 

Remove the tick: Remove attached ticks by grasping them as close to the skin as possible, preferably with fine-pointed tweezers, and pull them gently but firmly straight out. Then wash your hands and apply antiseptic to the wound.


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