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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts offers safety tips to ward off the threat of Lyme disease
BOSTON — July 14, 2014 — In an effort to help keep members safe this summer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) has released a list of safety tips aimed at educating its members on the harmful effects of tick bites, as well as the potential signs of Lyme disease.
"Studies have shown that Lyme disease is on the rise, and our members need to be aware of what to do when bitten by a tick as well as how to prevent a bite," said Jane Williams, MD, MPH, Medical Director at BCBSMA. "Our goal is to keep our members safe, so they can enjoy a long summer outdoors with their friends and family."
While most tick bites are harmless, several species can cause life-threatening diseases. Lyme is the most common of these diseases and is a multistage, multisystem bacterial infection. According to the Center for Disease Control, Lyme disease continues to be a rapidly emerging infectious disease, and is the leading cause of all insect-borne illness in the U.S.
What should you do if you find a tick?
Ticks prefer to live in wooded areas, low-growing grasslands, and yards. Depending on the location, anywhere from less than one percent to more than 50 percent of the ticks are infected with a disease. Although Lyme disease is a year-round problem, April through October is considered 'tick season.'
What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
The list of possible symptoms is long, and symptoms can affect every part of the body. The primary symptom is a red rash which:
Several days or weeks after a bite from an infected tick, a patient usually experiences flu-like symptoms, and weeks to months after the bite, a patient may develop neurological symptoms, heart problems, eye problems, inflammation of the joints (arthritis) and extremity numbness, tingling and pain and difficulties with speech, memory, and concentration
How can Lyme disease be prevented?
Humans do not develop immunity to Lyme disease and reinfection is possible. Some general guidelines for preventing Lyme disease include the following:
"Very often, diagnostic testing may not be necessary when a diagnosis can be made clinically in patients with a recent tick bite or exposure and the presence of the characteristic rash," continued Williams. "We want our members to know when laboratory studies are needed, most first and second line blood tests are covered. If your doctor determines treatment is needed, FDA approved medications are covered for our members."
For more information about Lyme disease, or tick bites, visit ahealthyme, BCBSMA's complete guide to being well and staying healthy.
About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (www.bluecrossma.com) is a community-focused, tax-paying, not-for-profit health plan headquartered in Boston. We are the trusted health plan for more than 31,500 Massachusetts employers and are committed to working with others in a spirit of shared responsibility to make quality health care affordable. Consistent with our corporate promise to always put our 2.8 million members first, we are rated among the nation's best health plans for member satisfaction and quality. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.