Last week Chambers County was listed on a list of seven Alabama Counties whom are suffering from an endemic. The endemic that Chambers County finds itself in involves cases of Lyme Disease within the county. The disease which is carried by ticks has been found in Chambers County and the Alabama Department of Public Health has released a few safety tips as to what to do to protect yourself and your loved ones from this disease that has shown up our local backyard.
An endemic is far from a epidemic, meaning that the endemic that Chambers County is facing means that there is only a limited number of cases in the county with a number that is greater than two. If the county was under an epidemic it would be a widespread outbreak locally which is not the case. An endemic means that the disease or disorder is located only to an isolated area.
The seven counties which have found themselves under the endemic include; Chambers, Calhoun, Jefferson, Mobile, Shelby, Russell, and Tuscaloosa. Each of these locations has been deemed by the Alabama Department of Public Health to have centralized areas in which the disorder is present and active in humans.
Lyme disease is one of many disease that is classified as a tickborne illness. The disorders and diseases which ticks are known to cause in Alabama include; anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Lyme disease, rickettsiosis, Rocky mounted spotted fever, and tularemia to name a few. These diseases are spread by tick bites which are insects that feed on blood from humans and animals. These diseases are typically inherited when the feeding tick injects a bacteria while feeding. Typically in Alabama and Chambers County the blacklegged tick also known as a deer tick is the carrier of Lyme disease.
State health officials encourage people to protect themselves whenever outdoors. Ticks are native to areas of wooded and bushy areas. It is best to walk in the center of cleared trails when in the woods. The use of insect repellent is also strongly recommended. At the conclusion of outdoor activities a long bath or shower is encouraged with a thorough inspection of ones body as well as those of children and pets.. Gear and clothing should also be inspected.
If upon inspection a tick is discovered on your skin the best way for removal is to use a fine tipped pair of tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible. After grasping the insect should be pulled upward with a steady and even level of pressure. Twisting and jerking of the tick is strongly discouraged because it can cause the mouth of the tick to break off inside of the skin. Aside from the rumor mill using heat or nail polish removal is not a recommended solution for removing a tick.
For individuals who have suffered a tick bite and feel they may have contracted Lyme disease there are a few symptoms to watch for. The most common symptoms include fever, chills, body aches and pains, and rashes. A rash may appear as a skin ulcer or circular pattern rash. Lyme disease is completely treatable by healthcare professionals, yet if left unattended the infections is able to spread to other parts of the body including, the joints, heart, and the nervous system.
The good news is that while the number of cases is up right now the peak of the season for ticks spans the late spring and summer months and is beginning to wind down now. Therefore the endemic that is now present in Chambers County will be going away soon. The Alabama Department of Public Health and the CDC has tons of more information about tickborne illness on their websites.