South Jersey Doctor Explains Risks of Ticks, Lyme Disease

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WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. -

When it comes to tick bites, Lyme disease can be a big concern.

And with Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials saying that illnesses from mosquito, tick, and flea bites have tripled in recent years, now is the time to learn how to protect yourself.

The more we’re outside, the more we’re susceptible to being bit by a tick and with that comes the risk of getting Lyme disease.

“Lyme disease tends to be caused by a bacteria that’s spread by a bite of a deer tick," said Dr. Jennifer Caudle, associate professor at Rowan University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine. "That’s something that in this part of the country that we live in, we actually see a lot of.” 

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According to the CDC, approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported each year.

That deer tick that Caudle mentioned is very common in New Jersey.

On a map created by the CDC, each blue dot is one reported case in the United States.

When you look closer, you’ll see New Jersey is covered in those blue dots showing just how common this disease is here in the Garden State.

“Not all deer ticks are going to spread Lyme disease," said Caudle. "But for those that do carry the bacteria, the longer the tick is attached increases the likelihood that one can be infected with Lyme disease.”

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And there’s a wide range of symptoms.

“Early-stage Lyme disease people can have symptoms such as fever and chills, muscle aches and pains, [and] fatigue," said Caudle. "But probably one of the most common symptoms is the target rash or a rash that kind of looks like a bulls-eye that occurs around the site of the actual tick bite.” 

But just because you don’t see that rash doesn’t mean you don’t have Lyme disease.

“But late stage changes people can actually get joint pains, joint swelling [and] they can actually have ... nerve issues or heart problems as a result," said Caudle. "So, that’s why I say some of the symptoms are far-reaching and sometimes can be a little tricky.”

That’s why she recommends talking with your doctor because the disease can be treated.

“If you get Lyme disease you’re not necessarily going to have it forever," said Caudle. "We have really great antibiotic treatments to treat Lyme disease and most people who undergo treatment do very, very well.” 

Although it can be treated, Caudle says taking preventative measures like covering up and using bug spray are your best bet at keeping ticks and Lyme disease away.

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