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Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a potentially serious disease caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi). Humans and animals can become infected with B. burgdorferi, following the bite of an infected deer tick, also called the “black-legged tick”. Approximately 80 percent of persons with Lyme disease will develop an erythema migrans (EM) or “bull’s-eye” rash around or near the site of the bite. The rash will generally appear 3 to 30 days (usually 7-14 days) following the tick bite. If you think you have Lyme disease, you should see your health care provider as soon as possible. In the early stages of Lyme disease, people can be successfully treated with antibiotic therapy.

You're at risk of Lyme disease if you spend time where the ticks live, such as grassy, brushy or wooded areas. Taking safety measures in these areas can lower the risk of Lyme disease.

Lyme Disease is a reportable disease in Oklahoma.

Reducing exposure to ticks is the best defense against Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other tickborne infections. 

If you find a tick attached to your skin, simply remove the tick as soon as possible. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers works very well.

How to remove a tick

  1. Use clean, fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you cannot remove the mouth easily with tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
  4. Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by:
  • Putting it in alcohol
  • Placing it in a sealed bag/container
  • Wrapping it tightly in tape, or
  • Flushing it down the toilet.

Early diagnosis and proper antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease is important and can help prevent late Lyme disease. Some patients report persistent symptoms of pain, fatigue, or difficulty thinking even after treatment for Lyme disease. The state of the science relating to persistent symptoms associated with Lyme disease is limited, emerging, and unsettled.