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8 Mistakes You’re Making That Up Your Risk For Lyme Disease

Prevention Logo By Markham Heid of Prevention | Slide 1 of 9

8 Mistakes You’re Making That Up Your Risk For Lyme Disease

In 2015, there were roughly 28,500 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the U.S., per the CDC. But the actual number of cases may be 10 times that number, says Marina Makous, MD, a former assistant professor at Columbia University’s Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Research Center who is now in private practice in Pennsylvania.

"Many authorities feel this is a massively underreported issue, and one that's increasing every year," Makous says.

Symptoms of the disease vary from person to person. But early signs include fever, chills, headaches, fatigue, muscle or joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes. Later, the disease can cause severe headaches and muscle stiffness, arthritis, skin rashes, nerve pain, and other symptoms, according to the CDC.

Lyme used to be confined to a few localized areas, particularly around Connecticut and the Northeastern U.S. But warmer winter temperatures, as well as urban sprawl—which has driven off or killed many of the natural predators that kill tick-transporting rodents and deer—have caused tick populations to explode and spread across much of the country. That, in turn, has led to a sharp increase in the incidence of Lyme, Makous explains.

Here are the mistakes you may be making that could inflate your risk for the disease.

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