Check yourself, your children and your pets early and often for ticks

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Warmer weather is here, and that means the bugs are out. While some are annoying, others can be damaging to your health and diseases carried by bugs can negatively affect you for a long period of time.

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, possibly shedding light on the issue because so many more people are outside sprucing up their yards and playing in the new growth, but trees, scrubs and bushes are great hiding spots for ticks.

Dr. Maulin Desai at Patient First said you need to be checking yourselves, your kids and your pets constantly.

“Warm, moist areas like your hairline, behind the ear, joints, armpits, behind the knees and groin area are where they might burrow into the skin.”

While any tick bite can cause an infection, only some ticks carry Lyme.

Related: Tips to prevent ticks as the weather gets warmer

“The black-legged or deer tick carries the disease of Lyme,” Desai said.

The tick-carrying Lyme has to be embedded in your skin for 36-48 hours to pass on the disease, but they are so small and easy to miss that many times they dig into your skin and can go undetected.

Desai said the best advice is to check yourself often and stay covered up when you can.

“Long sleeves, pants instead of shorts, have your pants tucked into socks and you can pre-treat your clothing with medicine that repels ticks,” said Desai.

Lyme disease is treatable. Antibiotics have been approved to treat Lyme, but late detection means the medicine takes longer to work. So, if you have any inclination that you might have Lyme, Desai said get tested.

“Early symptoms are like the flu: Fever, muscles, body aches. The bullseye rash is often associated with Lyme or a tick bite,” Desai said, but symptoms can worsen. Neurological issues, a drooping face, heart conditions and even arthritis can all develop because of Lyme.

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