Posts Tagged ‘Lyme disease’

Spring is here and so are ticks

Friday, April 7th, 2017

pregnant women walkingI remember the anxiety I felt after discovering a tick attached to my skin. I was reaching my hands behind my head and found a tick at the top of my neck where my hairline begins. The tick had already bitten me and was enlarged with blood. I never even felt the bite. That’s the tricky part about ticks, they crawl onto you and are so small they may be hard to see and nearly impossible to feel.

Why are these little creatures so dangerous?

Ticks can spread Lyme disease. Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria carried by an infected black-legged tick (also called a deer tick). This type of tick usually lives in wooded areas, like forests, or in places with high grass and bushes. A tick with Lyme disease can spread Lyme by biting you and has to be on your body for about 2 days before you can get infected.

If you get infected with Lyme disease during pregnancy, it may cause complications, including:

  • An infection in the placenta. The placenta grows in your uterus (womb) and supplies your baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord.
  • Stillbirth. This is when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Congenital heart defects. These are heart conditions that are present at birth. They can affect the heart’s shape or how it works, or both.
  • Urinary tract defects. The urinary tract is the system of organs (like the kidneys and bladder) that helps your body get rid of waste and extra fluids. Urinary tract defects can cause pain, urinary tract infections, kidney damage and kidney failure.
  • Problems with your baby’s blood, like hyperbilirubinemia, which is when your baby’s blood has too much bilirubin in it. Bilirubin is a yellow substance that forms as red blood cells break down. Too much bilirubin can cause your baby to have jaundice. This is when your baby’s skin and the white parts of his eyes look yellow because his liver isn’t fully developed or working properly.

Untreated Lyme disease also may cause your baby to have a rash after he’s born.

How do you know if you have Lyme disease?

Early signs may include: headache, fever and chills, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, swollen lymph nodes  (glands throughout the body that help fight infection), and/or a rash called erythema migraines (also called EM). This rash looks like a bull’s eye around where the tick bit you.

Later signs may include: being short of breath, dizziness, stiff neck, severe headache, EM rash, joint pain and swelling, and/or facial paralysis (when you can’t feel or move parts of your face.)

If you have any signs or symptoms of Lyme disease, or you find a tick attached to your skin, call your health care provider. You can get a blood test to see if you have Lyme disease. Antibiotics are available and most women who get treatment during pregnancy have healthy babies.

Prevent Lyme disease by protecting yourself from tick bites

  • Use an EPA registered insect repellant.
  • Shower and check your body and clothes for ticks after being outside.
  • If you find a tick on you, remove it with tweezers – be sure to grab the tick near its head. Slowly pull the tick up and off your skin and be sure not to squeeze or crush the tick. Check with your healthcare provider or local Department of Health as to whether you should bring it in to be examined and tested for Lyme disease.  If not, flush the tick down the toilet. After removing the tick, clean the area with soap and water or rubbing alcohol.

For more information about Lyme disease and pregnancy, see our article.  

Have questions? Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Time for sunshine and flowers… and bugs

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

flowersPesticides are chemicals used to kill or keep away insects and rodents. You can use some pesticides in your home. Others are for use only outside or on crops. With the warmer weather finally upon us, we get to enjoy flowers blooming, grass growing, and all those pests that also enjoy the springtime weather. So is it a good idea to use pesticides to get rid of these critters?

In her book, Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby, Dr. Siobhan Dolan states that “We don’t know for sure what effect pesticides have on an unborn baby. In some studies, high-level exposure appears to increase risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birthweight, birth defects, and learning problems. Although pesticide use is regulated by the federal government, there is a lack of agreement over pesticides’ safety.”

If you are pregnant, it makes sense to avoid pesticides whenever possible.

If you need pest or rodent control in your home:
• Try to use traps, like mousetraps,  instead of pesticides. Be careful not to set traps in places where children can get to them. Stay away from rodents and have someone else empty the trap.
• Have someone else put the pesticide in your home. Ask them to follow the directions on the product label.
• Put food, dishes and utensils away before using the pesticide.
• If you need to use it, have someone open the windows to air out your home and wash off all surfaces where food is made after using the pesticide

If you use pesticides outside your home:
• Close all the windows and turn off the air conditioning. This helps keep pesticides in the air from coming into the home.
• Wear rubber gloves when gardening to avoid touching pesticides.
• And as tempting as it might be, try to avoid walking barefoot in the grass.

In certain areas, you may need to consider using an insect repellant. Insect repellants are products you put on your skin or clothes to help keep insects, like mosquitoes and ticks, away. This helps prevent insect bites.

Many insect repellants contain DEET (diethyltoluamide).  According to Dr. Dolan, “Recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control don’t tell pregnant women to avoid DEET. But it’s reasonable to stay away from it if you possibly can, unless you’re in a situation in which using it makes more sense than not using it. For example, if you’re camping in an area that’s crawling with ticks or buzzing with mosquitoes, applying insect repellent makes a lot of sense. In that situation, the risk of getting Lyme disease or West Nile virus, which can be harmful to you and your baby, outweighs any theoretical risk that might be posed by the insect repellent.”

You also can prevent bites by staying indoors in the early morning or late afternoon when mosquitoes are most likely to bite. Wearing long pants and long sleeves when going outdoors helps, too.

Keep on the lookout for ticks

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

tickAs small as they are, ticks can pack a punch with some powerful diseases. Summer is going strong and with the warm weather comes the proliferation of bugs, gnats, mosquitoes and ticks.

You’ve heard of Lyme disease and, perhaps, of erlichiosis. Did you know that there are many other tick-borne illnesses? These little bugs can seriously harm your health.

Powasson (POW) is the latest tick-borne concern. Long-term neurologic problems may occur. There is no specific treatment, but people with severe POW virus illnesses often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce swelling in the brain. In rare cases, it may be fatal.

For many of the tick-borne illnesses, symptoms vary. Many people feel fine, some people develop flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea, or fatigue. There is not always a distinct bulls-eye rash like in most cases of Lyme disease. If you have been bitten by a tick or come down with flu-like symptoms, be sure to let your health care provider know right away. According to the CDC, “Untreated Lyme disease during pregnancy may lead to infection of the placenta and possible stillbirth. Thankfully, no serious effects on the fetus have been found in cases where the mother receives appropriate antibiotic treatment for her Lyme disease. In general, treatment for pregnant women with Lyme disease is similar to that of non-pregnant adults, although certain antibiotics, such as doxycycline, are not used because they can affect fetal development.”

The good news is there’s no need to lock your family indoors until it snows again. There are steps you can take, products you can use to help protect you and your kids while romping in the yard.

Cover up with socks and shoes and long pants. The insect repellant DEET (diethyltoluamide) is among the most effective at keeping insects, such as mosquitoes and ticks, from biting. Preventing insect bites is important during pregnancy because mosquito- and tick-borne infections, such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease, erlichiosis and babesiosis may be harmful in pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend any special precautions for pregnant women using DEET-containing products, when used as directed on the product label. A pregnant woman can minimize her need for DEET by staying indoors during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most likely to bite.

Remember, ticks are tiny, so check yourself and your children carefully when you come indoors. If you’re thinking of using pesticides around your property, be sure to read our information, including safety precautions.

Tick season’s around the corner

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

tickWith the return of warm weather comes the proliferation of bugs, gnats, mosquitoes and ticks. Regardless of how you feel about these little pests, it’s important to remember that, as small as they are, they can pack a punch with some powerful diseases.

You’ve heard of Lyme disease and, perhaps, of erlichiosis. Did you know that there is another tick-borne illness called babesiosis?  People who have had their spleen removed are particularly susceptible to a severe case. Aside from a tick bite, babesiosis can be transmitted through a blood transfusion and an infected mother can pass the disease to her baby during pregnancy or delivery. It can be a very serious illness to people with compromised immune systems.

As with other tick-borne illnesses, symptoms vary. Many people feel fine, some people develop flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea, or fatigue. There is no distinct bulls-eye rash like in Lyme disease. If you come down with flu-like symptoms, be sure to let your health care provider know.

Don’t panic – there’s no need to lock yourself indoors until it snows again. But there are steps you can take, products you can use to help protect you and your kids while romping in the yard. Pregnant women may be concerned about the safety of insect repellants during pregnancy. The insect repellant DEET (diethyltoluamide) is among the most effective at keeping insects, such as mosquitoes and ticks, from biting. Preventing insect bites is important during pregnancy because mosquito- and tick-borne infections, such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease, erlichiosis and babesiosis may be harmful in pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend any special precautions for pregnant women using DEET-containing products, when used as directed on the product label. You can minimize your need for DEET by staying indoors during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most likely to bite. You also can wear long pants and long sleeves. Remember, ticks are tiny, so check yourself and your children carefullly when you come indoors.

If you’re thinking of using pesticides around your property, be sure to read our information, including safety precautions.