It is the black-legged or deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) that carries the bacterium (Borrelia burgdorferi) that causes Lyme disease. It is smaller than the more familiar dog tick. The bacterium circulates harmlessly in the blood of deer and other mammals and can be transmitted to humans after an adult deer tick acquires it in a blood meal from a deer or an earlier host. Fortunately, infected ticks must be attached for 36 to 48 hours before they can transmit the Lyme disease bacterium.
The best treatment for Lyme disease is prevention. Avoid walking through dense vegetation from May through July. Wear a 20 percent to 30 percent DEET-based repellent on clothes and exposed skin. Wear long pants and long sleeves. Tuck pant legs into socks and wrap in duct tape. Do frequent tick checks, even while in your own backyard. Shower after being outdoors.
If you find an attached tick, here's what the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick. If the mouthparts break off, remove them with the tweezers. Then clean the area with rubbing alcohol and soap and water.
If after finding an attached deer tick, you find a telltale bull's-eye rash, or develop symptoms such as chills, fever, headache, achy muscles, swollen lymph nodes, and/or fatigue, see a physician.
Send questions and comments to Dr. Scott Shalaway, 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, WV 26033 or via my website, http://scottshalaway.googlepages.com.