The main risk factor for
Lyme disease is exposure to ticks that are infected
with Lyme disease bacteria. In areas where Lyme disease is widespread, several
factors may increase your risk, including:
- Spending time outdoors during the warm months of the year when
ticks are most active. Most cases of Lyme disease occur in the northeastern
United States and Canada when infected ticks are most prevalent-usually between
May and November, with peak activity in June and July.
- Working or playing in grassy or wooded areas doing things like
gardening or yard work, hiking, camping, hunting, or fishing.
- Having indoor/outdoor pets. They can bring infected ticks into
the house. Although dogs and cats can become infected with the Lyme disease
bacteria, they cannot pass the illness to humans. But the infected ticks can
drop off the animal and then bite and infect a person. Animals may have
symptoms similar to those seen in people, including fever and swollen joints. A
vaccine for dogs is available in some areas.
- Having a stone fence or a bird feeder near your house. Stone
fences often become homes for mice, and mice may feed on spilled seed from a
bird feeder. Where there are mice, there are ticks.
Remove ticks right away, as soon as you notice them.
Your risk for getting Lyme disease increases the longer a tick is attached to
your body. Ticks generally cannot transmit Lyme disease until they are attached
for at least 36 hours.
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