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Arthritis Health Center

Lyme Disease Cases Down From Last Year, but Up In General

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Forschner lets her daughter play outside in shorts and a T-shirt, but she is careful to do daily tick checks

If ticks are found, they must be removed properly with fine-point tweezers, she explains. "Place the tweezers next to the skin and around the mouth part of the tick and pull back," she says. Don't squeeze their bodies.

If the ticks are removed as soon as possible after they're found, and haven't been on the skin too long, then a person might not be infected. Remember, Marshall says, "a tick has to be attached for two days to cause the disease."

Once again, vigilance is key. "Rates are down very little and that means that the risk still remains largely what it has been in the past," says Aravinda M. de Silva, PhD, an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

De Silva and colleagues recently published research on how the bacteria that causes Lyme disease moves from a tick to an animal host. What they found was there was great variability in the bacteria -- which will make it tough to develop a vaccine.

The Lyme vaccine currently available is not recommended for widespread use, he says. Only people who live in high-risk areas and spend a lot of time outdoors are advised to get vaccinated.

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