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Protect your family from Lyme disease this summer

Every year, roughly 30,000 Americans contract Lyme disease from a blacklegged tick. (CDC photo) Every year, roughly 30,000 Americans contract Lyme disease from a blacklegged tick. (CDC photo)

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For many, summer heat brings more outdoor play for the entire family. But being outside also increases your risk of getting a tick-borne disease. You can protect your loved ones and pets from the dangers of Lyme disease. Know how to decrease your risk of tick bites and recognize the symptoms of Lyme disease. And should you or a family member get Lyme disease, your TRICARE benefit can help you get the care you need.

Every year, roughly 30,000 Americans contract Lyme disease from a blacklegged tick. Lyme disease risk is highest in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and upper Midwest, with pockets of reduced risk along the west coast. Be aware of the risk where you travel this summer.

Protect Yourself from Ticks

The best way to prevent Lyme disease is by avoiding ticks. Be sure to wear long pants and socks, especially when walking through the woods. If you spend your day working in the garden or playing in the yard, check your skin for ticks. Make this a part of your daily routine, especially for small children who may not be as careful. For extra protection, use an Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellant when outdoors. Check with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for more tips to prevent tick bites

Recognize Symptoms of Lyme disease

The most common symptoms of Lyme disease are fever, headache, fatigue, or a bullseye-shaped rash around a tick bite. If left untreated, Lyme disease can also cause joint pain, chronic fatigue, and in extreme circumstances, heart and nervous system complications. You may experience symptoms several days or months after getting the disease and may not observe all symptoms. The CDC recommends you seek medical attention if you observe any symptoms and have noticed a tick bite, live in an area known for Lyme disease, or have recently traveled to an area where the disease occurs.

Treat Lyme disease

A diagnosis requires a positive blood test. Your TRICARE benefit covers this test if ordered by a TRICARE-authorized provider. If diagnosed early, your doctor may treat Lyme disease with a standard round of antibiotics covered by your benefit when medically necessary. If diagnosed, your provider can determine the appropriate antibiotic to fight the disease. If the disease remains untreated, more intensive courses of medication may be required in the future.

If you think you’ve been bitten, contact your primary care manager or Military Health System Nurse Advice Line for assistance. This summer, take command of your health and keep your family safe from the dangers of Lyme disease. For more about bug-borne diseases, check out Bug Week at the Military Health System. For more on your benefits and what TRICARE covers, check out the TRICARE website.

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