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What You Need to Know About Lyme Disease

With all the outdoor space in Medfield, knowing a bit about this tick-borne disease is important.

When it comes to living in Medfield, residents have a wide array of options in terms of outdoor entertainment. A hike through Rocky Woods or a walk at nearby Hale Reservation... the options go on and on.

The flora and fauna might look diverse, but one thing they all have in common (along with any other outdoor space in New England): ticks.

According to a report issued in April 2011 by the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight and titled, "Lyme Disease in Massachusetts: A Public Health Crisis," Suffolk and Middlesex counties reported a combined 702 cases of Lyme disease in 2009, the last year from which official numbers are available. In total, 4,045 cases were reported in Massachusetts that year.

While the total number of reported cases is down slightly from 2008 when 4,119 cases were reported, a letter that opens the report indicates that "probably many times that number occurred" but went unrecorded due to reporting issues.

Below are five things to keep in mind when it comes to Lyme disease:

1. Do not think that Lyme disease is only prevalent on Cape Cod and   the Islands. South-central Massachusetts, along with the North Shore and MetroWest, are current hot spots. Diagnoses are increasing in Central   Massachusetts, while they are dropping on the Cape and Islands.

2. Lyme disease makes up 95 percent of tick-borne illnesses in the  United States, according to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS).

3. The longer a tick is attached, the more likely it is to spread disease; therefore, any tick found on the skin should be removed as soon as possible.

4. Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria carried by the deer tick,   called borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted by a deer tick, which   begins about the size of a poppy seed. If that tick feeds on you for   three days, it will approach the size of a "dog" tick.

5. Left untreated, 60 percent of the people infected with Lyme  disease will develop arthritis, as well as many other symptoms and   conditions. Caught early, antibiotics may kill it off entirely.

For more information, check out this FAQ from the EOHHS.

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