HOUSTON – Ticks are most active in May and July. You probably won't see the tiny, black-legged bugs when they land on you, but they can feed on you while giving you a painful disease known as Lyme.
You're most at risk encountering ticks in high grass, woods and brush. That doesn't exclude your own backyard.
“We found a couple of ticks in her hair after we were doing some gardening,” Doug D’Aquila said his wife was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2013. “We were having a conversation about something and then five minutes later she would ask me the same questions again. So, that's when I knew something was very seriously wrong with her.”
They believe she was experiencing some symptoms of Lyme which, also include:
- Muscle aches
Even though not everyone has the telltale symptom, a bullseye rash could show up from three to 30 days after infection.
“That can sometimes be in places that are hard to find like your folds. So, like your armpits and the groin, behind the knees. So you should have someone else look because those are sometimes hard places to check,” Dr. Charlene Flash, infectious disease expert at Legacy Community Health said.
The more engorged the tick gets, the bigger risk you have of exposure to Lyme. Flash said it's only the large or engorged tick that actually can transmit the disease.
Patients need to get a diagnosis early and be tested while symptoms are present, Flash said. Then, they can be treated.
“It's a relatively long course of antibiotics. About 21 days, but relatively easy to treat,” Flash said.
Even though Doug’s wife is now symptom-free, they want other people to know it can happen to anyone.
“If somebody in your family has Lyme disease, they're going to need a lot of support,” D’Aquila said.
Being bitten by a tick does not automatically mean you will get sick. However, if you're really concerned, Flash instructs patients to remove the tick, put it in a bag and take it to your doctor. Since only a certain species of ticks carry Lyme, your doctor may be able to identify if you're at risk based on the tick you find.