Lyme disease is an infection caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted by the bite of an infected blacklegged tick. Blacklegged ticks are in all parts of Loudoun County. Ticks are commonly found in wooded areas, areas with tall grass, and on low vegetation.
People of any age and in any part of Loudoun County can get Lyme disease. Infections occur throughout the year, but are more common during the late spring and summer and in people who work or play outdoors. Dogs, cats, and horses can also get Lyme disease.
May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month
Take preventative measures year-around and be extra vigilant in the warmer months (April-September) when ticks are most active.
There is currently no Lyme disease vaccine available for people. The best way to prevent getting Lyme disease is to reduce your chances of getting bitten by a tick and making sure that no tick is attached for more than a day.
- Avoid tick-infested areas, such as tall grasses, whenever feasible.
- Wear insect repellent.
- Apply tick repellent to exposed skin.
- Clothes may be pretreated with a tick repellent called permethrin.
- Follow label instructions before using any repellent. Explore the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Interactive Guide to Insect Repellents.
- Dress appropriately.
- Wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves and long pants so that ticks are easier to see and remove.
- Tuck your pants into your socks and tuck your shirt into your pants to keep ticks off your skin.
- Keep ticks off your pet(s).
- Talk to your veterinarian about the best tick prevention strategies.
- Read more about preventing ticks on your pets on the CDC website.
- Keep ticks off your property.
- Keep grass cut short.
- Avoid leaf litter.
- Discourage deer, mice and small rodents.
- Consider an annual pesticide application.
- More information on tick-proofing your property is available in the landscaping and plant guide (PDF) (Spanish (PDF)).
- Conduct tick checks at least daily for you, your family, and pets.
- Check under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, back of the knees, in and around the hair, between the legs, and around the waist.
- Safely remove any attached ticks promptly and carefully.
- Gripping the tick with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and using a gentle steady pulling action.
- Protect hands with gloves, cloth, or tissue when removing ticks from people or animals.
If you believe you may have been bitten by a tick, contact your primary care doctor for testing and treatment. People with Lyme disease may or may not show signs or symptoms of Lyme disease:
- "Bullseye" skin rash at the site of the tick bite.
- The "bullseye" rash, called erythema migrans (EM), is red and slowly gets bigger, usually with a clearing in the center. It is not painful and does not itch.
- See photos of Lyme disease rashes and look a-likes on the CDC website.
- Flu-like symptoms, such as:
- Stiff neck
- Muscle or joint pain
Both the rash and flu-like symptoms may last up to several weeks and will typically go away with or without treatment. If the early infection is not treated though, other problems may develop such as nervous system disorders, heart problems, or joint swelling and pain.