Lyme Disease Awareness for Social Care Professionals | QCS

Lyme Disease Awareness for Social Care Professionals

May 17, 2024

Introduction:

As spring and summer approach, you may well spend more time outdoors, increasing the risk of tick bites and potential Lyme disease transmission. It’s crucial for social care professionals to be aware of Lyme disease symptoms and preventative measures to support service users who may be more vulnerable or those with compromised immune systems.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. The UK is experiencing a rise in cases, likely due to climate change favouring tick activity.

Symptoms:

  • Early Stage (3-36 days after bite):
    • Flu-like symptoms (fatigue, muscle/joint pain, swollen glands, headaches, fever, chills)
    • Expanding “bull’s-eye” rash (may not appear in everyone)
  • Later Stage (if untreated):
    • Severe joint pain and swelling
    • Nerve problems (numbness, pain)
    • Cognitive issues (memory, concentration)
    • Heart problems

Some people may develop long-term symptoms of chronic fatigue, known as post-infectious Lyme disease.

Prevention:

  • Advise service users to:
    • Stay on paths and avoid long grass/overgrown areas in tick-infested zones (parks, gardens, woodlands)
    • Regularly check clothing and exposed skin for ticks and remove them promptly
    • Wear long sleeves and trousers tucked into socks when outdoors
    • Use insect repellents containing DEET
    • Check themselves, children, and pets for ticks after outdoor activities, paying close attention to skin folds, armpits, groin, waistband, back of the neck, and hairline

Tick Removal:

  • If a tick is attached, use fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool to grasp it as close to the skin as possible
  • Pull upwards slowly and firmly without twisting (mouthparts may detach and cause infection)
  • Clean the bite area with soap and water, then wash hands thoroughly
  • Monitor the bite area for any changes

Treatment:

  • Early diagnosis is important and treatment is usually with antibiotics
  • Encourage service users to seek medical attention if bitten by a tick and experience any symptoms

Remember:

  • Not all ticks carry Lyme disease, but vigilance is essential
  • Early detection and treatment lead to a full recovery in most cases

Additional Resources:

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