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What's it like: To be treated for a tick-borne illness

As the temperatures warm up, more Oklahomans will spend time outside. And some of them will encounter one of nature's pests — ticks.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: June 16, 2013
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/articleid/3852011/1/pictures/2132718">Photo - This photograph depicts a deer tick, or blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, as it was questing on a blade of grass. The Lyme disease bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, is spread through the bite of infected ticks. The blacklegged tick (or deer tick, Ixodes scapularis) spreads the disease in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and north-central United States. <strong>Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Centers for Disease Control and</strong>
This photograph depicts a deer tick, or blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, as it was questing on a blade of grass. The Lyme disease bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, is spread through the bite of infected ticks. The blacklegged tick (or deer tick, Ixodes scapularis) spreads the disease in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and north-central United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Centers for Disease Control and

What happens when you're treated?

Your treatment will depend on your symptoms and illness. For Rocky Mountain spotted fever, it has been found that the antibiotic doxycycline is effective if started before the fifth day of symptoms. Doxycycline also is used to treat ehrlichiosis.

If you have contracted Lyme disease, and it's early in your symptoms, you might be treated with an antibiotic, such as doxycycline, amoxicillin or cefuroxime. Untreated, Lyme disease can cause a variety of serious symptoms, including loss of muscle tone in your face, severe headaches and swelling in large joints. There is some controversy about “chronic” Lyme disease and whether it exists and, if it does, how to best treat it.

What's the recovery time?

Your recovery time will depend on how severe your illness was. If you're treated quickly, you usually can recover quickly. However, if people with tick-borne illnesses aren't treated early, they sometimes can develop serious symptoms and, at times, they do not survive.

It's important to take preventive measures when spending time outdoors, including wearing insect repellent, checking yourself often for ticks and checking your pets, which can bring ticks into the home.

Source: Dr. John Harkess, Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City; Oklahoma State Department of Health; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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