Princeton Health Professional Talks Tick-Borne Illnesses

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It’s that time of year when we all enjoy being outdoors, but it’s also the time of year we need to take extra precautions to protect ourselves from ticks.

If you have a tick that is attached, Beth Devine, an advanced practice registered nurse with Health First Community Health Center, says the best way to remove it is to take tweezers and get as close to the head as possible and pull straight out. Once you have removed the tick, she says you need to save it in case you develop symptoms.

click to download audioShe says if you don’t develop flu-like symptoms, which occur quickly, you can throw the tick away. However, if you had a tick bite years ago and you have chronic symptoms, Devine says that’s a whole different ball game.

click to download audioIf you have chronic symptoms, Devine says a good place to research is the International Lyme and Associational Society to find a local provider who is trained specifically in Lyme Disease. She says early diagnosis and treatment of Lyme Disease can help avoid chronic symptoms.

She adds there are more tick-borne illnesses coming to the forefront. Over the last several years, there has been an increase in the diagnosis of Alpha-Gal allergy, which is also known as a red meat allergy. Allergists say Aloha-Gal is a sugar found in red meats, including beef, pork, venison, and lamb. For a small percentage of adults and children who have been bitten by a tick that has transferred Alpha-Gal to them, allergic reactions can develop after eating these meats.

According to Devine, an alpha-gal allergy has varying symptoms.

click to download audioIf you develop an alpha-gal allergy, Devine says the only thing you can do is avoid meat.

click to download audioDevine adds the best way to avoid tick-borne illnesses is to prevent ticks from getting on your body.

click to download audioFor more information about tick-borne illnesses, contact Health First Community Health Center, located at 1100 S. Jefferson Street in Princeton.