Lyme Disease Awareness Month: The great tick off!

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The vast Minnesota wilderness is one of the reasons so many choose this state as their home. Living in Minnesota is like being one with nature. You can find a bounty of natural beauty just a short distance from your home. From lakes to wildlife, Minnesota has everything that makes our world special. However, nature also includes ticks and the bacteria they may or may not be carrying. May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and Tri-County Health Care wants you to enjoy the outdoors safely this summer.

What is Lyme disease?

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by tick bites. Primarily, this disease is spread by blacklegged ticks, commonly referred to as deer or bear ticks.

In the spring and summer, ticks begin searching for their first blood meal, which usually consists of rodents. Ticks are commonly associated with forests, but they can easily find their way into residential neighborhoods on the backs of mice and even pets. Luckily a tick needs to be stuck to the skin for several hours to transmit disease. Diseases carried by ticks include:

  • Lyme disease
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Babesiosis
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Powassan virus disease
  • Borrelia miyamotoi disease
  • Borrelia mayonii disease
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Tularemia

By far, Lyme disease is the most prevalent tick-borne disease. Experts are closely monitoring the spread of this disease and have noticed its frequency steadily increasing.

This video by Minnesota Lyme Disease Association puts the issue of Lyme Disease in Minnesota into perspective.

 

Lyme Disease Awareness Month is about learning the causes.

Symptoms and treatment

Symptoms usually appear within 30 days of the initial bite. One of the most common symptoms is a rash at the site of the bite. Sometimes it may appear to be a bulls-eye with a raised red sore in the middle and a circular patch of red skin around it. People may also experience chills, muscle pain, headaches, and fatigue.

If these symptoms appear, seek medical attention immediately. The chances of treating Lyme disease are better with early detection. After thorough examination and testing, treatment for Lyme disease includes antibiotics.

Prevention

The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid ticks. Wear appropriate clothing that covers your body when exploring the outdoors. Also, make sure to use insect repellent. Additionally, when you return home, do a tick inspection. For example, use a mirror to examine your body for the tiny pests. If you discover one, remove it with tweezers. Submerging ticks in alcohol is a way to kill them.

Throughout Lyme Disease Awareness Month, Tri-County Health Care aims to make this summer safe for everyone. If you suspect you might have Lyme disease, please meet with your care provider as soon as possible. For scheduling, please call 218-631-3510.


First step back to normal: Dr. Redig on the vaccine

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On Dec 21, 2020, Dr. Redig felt the pinch of a needle. A group of socially distanced reporters snapped photos and recorded video of the historic event. She was the first at Tri-County Health Care to receive the vaccine. She and several others marked the beginning of a movement within Tri-County, a mission to get as many people vaccinated as possible. This is the first step back to normal.

Why get the vaccine?

“I did it for myself, my family, and the patients I see every day,” said Dr. Redig. For her, this is the first step back to normal. When the vaccine was offered to her, she wasted no time and signed up. Dr. Redig has been following the development of the vaccine and knows it is safe.

Nothing but the usual symptomsDr. Redig has now received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Redig is alive and well. With her first dose, she experienced only mild soreness in her arm. This pain would only last a couple of days. On Jan. 11, she received her second dose. This time, she was sore and experienced slight chills and body aches. This was nothing she couldn’t handle and was still able to work and go about her day normally. These symptoms are a part of the typical immune system response associated with vaccination.

Give it time

Receiving two doses does not make you automatically immune to COVID-19. It takes around two weeks after the second dose for the body to generate proper immunity. It’s important even after receiving the second dose to continue practicing mitigation strategies. The vaccine does have a high efficacy rate but it doesn’t provide 100 percent immunity. Everyone must continue wearing masks in public while socially distancing themselves from others.

A safe vaccine for everyone

According to Dr. Redig, there are two things to remember when considering the vaccine. First, get it to protect yourself and the ones you love. The second is that this is an opportunity to do something for the good of everyone. Getting the vaccine is a way to heal our world and take a big step toward normal life. A vaccine is the only way to achieve herd immunity and only when we achieve herd immunity will it be safe to open back up.

The first thing I’ll do…

Dr. Redig works in the emergency room at Tri-County Health Care and is no stranger to intense situations but she and her coworkers are in agreement that things were easier before COVID-19. Staff members dream of the days before the pandemic but have hope for a future where the population is more aware of their health. For Dr. Redig, when COVID-19 is finally defeated, she plans to gather with friends, relatives, and neighbors for a huge birthday party for her twins, one without masks and hand sanitizer.

For more information about the vaccine please visit TCHC.org/covidvaccine. The CDC website is a great resource for information about COVID-19. For regular updates on the progress of the vaccine please follow Tri-County Health Care on Facebook.


COVID-19 Requires Unified Response

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We have reached a serious and critical point in our efforts to battle COVID-19. COVID-19 requires a unified response now. This virus is not only affecting those overseas or in densely populated areas; it has made its way to rural central Minnesota and is currently spreading quickly right here in our own backyard. Cases of COVID-19 have surged in recent weeks. The trajectory of these cases is predicted to increase throughout the holiday season.Tri-County Health Care COVID Todd County Wadena County Health Partners Germs Hand Hygiene

Healthcare facilities and their respective staff have watched as larger regional hospitals within the state have been overrun. Bed space has been depleted; there is no more room. That means COVID-positive individuals that may have otherwise been transferred to a larger hospital must seek care locally, increasing the strain on our local hospitals which are also near capacity. If this trend continues, this crisis will quickly increase and affect our ability to provide care to those who need it. People who could have been saved may succumb to COVID-19.

As the holidays draw near, healthcare leaders in the area have come together to plead that you celebrate responsibly this holiday season. These gatherings can be a significant source of spread and risk the lives of family members and friends. It may not be easy, but we ask you please try to find safe alternatives to these gatherings. Stay home. Call your loved ones or use video chat to communicate.

Fighting this virus requires a unified front, not just from hospitals but from every single individual. Everyone needs to practice physical distancing, wash your hands regularly, only leave home when absolutely necessary and wear a mask when in public.

COVID-19 is not a hoax or conspiracy. It is a very real virus affecting us all. The recent COVID-19 surge requires unified response. Please take this message seriously. For us to return to normal life as soon as possible, it must be earned with great effort and genuine care for others.

Thank you and stay well,

Daniel J Swenson
Administrator, CentraCare – Long Prairie

Joel Beiswenger
President & CEO, Tri-County Health Care

Tim Rice
President & CEO, Lakewood Health System

Jackie Och
Director, Todd County Health & Human Services

Cindy Pederson
Director, Wadena County Public Health