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Lyme disease frequently asked questions (faq) - mn dept of health
Minnesota Department of Health Fact Sheet
Lyme Disease Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How can I prevent myself from getting Lyme
Check frequently for ticks, and remove them
Ticks actually have to bite you and remain
Avoid possible tick habitats during the peak time of
attached for one to two days before they can
year (generally mid-May through mid-July).
Blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks or bear
ticks) are found in wooded, brushy areas. Unless you
anaplasmosis (another tick-borne disease) may
spend time in that kind of setting, simply being in a
be transmitted more quickly, in 12-24 hours.
high-risk county won't place you at risk.
Parents should check children for ticks.
o If walking or hiking in the woods, stay on well-
If you find a tick on yourself, remove the tick
o Besides mid-May through mid-July, some
promptly by pulling in a slow but firm manner.
blacklegged ticks are also out earlier in the
o If possible, use a pair of tweezers or specially
designed tick forceps to grasp the tick by the
o Avoid folk remedies like Vaseline®, nail polish
o Products containing permethrin, which are
remover, or burning matches - they are not a
used on clothing, are especially recommended
for people who will be spending an extended
period of time in possible tick habitat.
Routinely check your pets for ticks.
Keep children’s play-sets or swing-sets in a sunny
and dry area of the yard, away from woods, brush
How do I know if I should see my doctor after
o Standard DEET-based products are another
being bitten by a tick?
Use a product containing no more than 30
The risk of getting a tick-borne disease is small,
especially if the tick is removed soon after it
reports that concentrations up to 30% are
Monitor the area surrounding your bite for about
a month, to watch for the expanding rash that
Follow the manufacturer's directions for
characteristic expanding rash that often appears
as a red ring with central clearing, or a "bull's-
Alternative repellents to DEET or permethrin
are not generally as effective in preventing tick
o The rash begins as a small red area that may
expand to several inches or more in diameter.
o A rash may appear on one or more places on
Wear clothes that will help to shield you from ticks.
the body, may include one or more rashes,
o Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
o Tuck your pants into the top of your socks or
o It is common to develop an area of inflammation
boots, to create a "tick barrier.”
and itching up to the size of a quarter right after
o It may be easier to spot ticks if you are wearing
being bitten by a tick. This is due to your body’s
reaction to the tick’s saliva and is not a symptom
o However, if you have been bitten by an
infected tick, the expending rash will reappear
a few days later and typically will be larger
than two inches across. It does not always
have a "bull's eye" appearance and may look
like a big red circle that is red throughout.
Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control
If you require this document in another format, such as large print, please call 651-201-5414.
Lyme Disease FAQ – page 2
Not everyone develops or notices the rash,
What is the likelihood of having complications
however, so it's also important to be alert for
after finishing treatment for Lyme disease?
other possible symptoms of Lyme disease - fever,
headache, chills, fatigue, sore throat, a stiff neck,
Most people have a complete resolution of their
and pain in the muscles or joints - if you've spent
symptoms after treatment. A small percentage of
time in "tick country" during the past month.
patients (especially those diagnosed in the later
stages of the disease) have persistent complaints
Other tick-borne diseases can also cause similar
after treatment. In that instance, our doctor will
help you determine whether further antibiotic
Treatment following a tick bite
What can be done to control tick populations?
In some circumstances, a short (1-day) antibiotic
treatment soon after a tick bite might prevent the
There are measures you can take to reduce the
development of Lyme disease. Several criteria
number of ticks around your home. In general,
drier conditions mean fewer blacklegged ticks:
o The tick must be identified as the blacklegged
Keep lawns mowed, brush trimmed, and leaf litter
o The tick must have been attached for at least
Keep trails or paths in wooded areas on your
36 hours (if it is engorged -- puffed up with
blood -- then it was probably on this long).
Make a landscape barrier (such as a three foot
o The local infection rate in the blacklegged ticks
wide border of wood chips) between your lawn
must be at least 20%. This is likely the case
for much of Minnesota, but call MDH (651-
o The treatment must be started within 72 hours
(3 days) of finding the attached tick on
o The treatment is only for adults and children 8
Talk to your doctor about the single dose antibiotic
treatment if you meet these criteria. You can also
take a "wait and see" approach and watch for signs
and symptoms of Lyme disease. Prompt treatment
of the disease is very effective and will prevent
Is there a vaccine for Lyme disease?
No. There was a vaccine for a while, but the
manufacturer pulled it off the market citing poor
sales. We do not expect any other Lyme disease
vaccines in the near future. A vaccine against
Lyme disease would not protect against other
If I’ve had Lyme disease in the past, am I immune
from getting it again?
No. There is no evidence to suggest that getting
Lyme disease once means you are protected
from getting it again; there are individuals who
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