Make sure to protect yourself from Lyme Disease this summer hiking season!

30 May 2024- The West Virginia Department of Health (DH) is urging residents to take preventive measures against Lyme disease as ticks are more active this time of year. West Virginia has been designated as a high-incidence Lyme disease state since 2017.  

“Lyme disease is a serious issue that could be devastating to your health and well-being if left untreated,” said Dr. Matthew Christiansen, State Health Officer. “I urge all West Virginians to take precautions against this infection and protect themselves outdoors, in areas where ticks are most commonly found.” 

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial infection following the bite of a blacklegged tick. Common symptoms can include an expanding skin rash (oftentimes in a target shape), fatigue, headaches, joint swelling, and fever. If left untreated, Lyme disease could spread to the heart, joints, and nervous system.   

The best prevention for Lyme disease is to remain vigilant when outdoors and to take the proper precautions when returning inside.  Early detection and removal of ticks is crucial; Ticks must be attached for 24 hours or more to be able to transmit Lyme disease.

To stay protected, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) encourages taking the following steps:

  • Check clothing for ticks
  • Examine gear and pets
  • Shower soon after being outdoors
  • Check body for ticks​

Ticks can attach to any part of the body, but prefer hard-to-see areas, such as the groin, armpits, and scalp, as well as tight-fitting areas, such as along the beltline. When seeking medical assistance for a tick bite, it is important to save any ticks that may have been involved to help medical staff in their treatment. Medical treatments are effective in treating tick-borne diseases and can prevent severe complications when given early in the course of infection.  If you suspect or are concerned about Lyme disease, follow up with your primary care doctor immediately.

Click here for more information on Lyme disease.