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.


COVID-19 vaccine: Everything you need to know

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The announcement of a COVID-19 vaccine has many breathing a sigh of relief. Several months of staying home, social distancing, and wearing masks has led to a major change in everyday life. People are in a hurry to return to the way things were and a vaccine seems like the only way out. Others are more hesitant; they may believe the vaccine has not passed through proper testing.

This article is designed to be a fact sheet about the upcoming vaccines. It is a condensed and simplified record of information gathered from sources like the Minnesota Department of Health, the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Operation Warp Speed

Operation Warp Speed (OWS) combines scientific testing and government quality control. Essentially, OWS removes several administrative hurdles during the production of an effective vaccine. The methodology associated with OWS uses processes that would normally take years and compresses them down. This change is done by running the various steps simultaneously rather than one at a time.

Medical workers and seniors will be among the first to get the vaccine.

The breakdown

Creating an effective vaccine requires multiple steps and extensive testing. Generally, the process includes:

  • Methodology and lab research
  • FDA approval for clinical trials
  • Volunteer testing
  • Safety and efficacy testing in a large group
  • Large population testing with control groups
  • Final FDA approval
  • Distribution

The facts

  1. There is currently no approved vaccine available in the United States. Testing is underway, and a vaccine is expected before 2021.
  2. You will not contract COVID-19 by receiving the vaccine. The vaccines do not use a live virus. It will be similar to other widely used vaccines. It may cause symptoms like fatigue or muscle pain. These symptoms mean the vaccine is working.
  3. COVID-19 vaccination will not make you test positive for COVID-19. You may test positive for antibodies. This positive antibody test suggests either a previous infection or that the vaccine successfully created antibodies.
  4. People who were previously infected with COVID-19 should still consider being vaccinated. Studies suggest that reinfection is possible, and antibodies may last just a few months.
  5. Testing shows that receiving the vaccine does provide antibodies in around 90 percent of people. Receiving the vaccine could be the best option for fighting COVID-19.
  6. The vaccine was not rushed. Instead, administrative red tape was removed. The development and testing trials are still extensive.
  7. Once distribution begins, the first rounds of the vaccine will most likely go to health care workers and people with compromised immune systems.
  8. The COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory.
  9. The COVID-19 vaccine will be available at no cost. However, providers of the vaccination will be able to charge an office visit fee.
  10. An mRNA vaccine will not harm your DNA. mRNA, which stands for messenger ribonucleic acid, makes protein. It does not interact with DNA at any point.

The problem with herd immunity

Herd immunity is a common talking point but is likely impossible to achieve. This form of immunity implies that a large enough section of the population has contracted the virus and is resistant. Herd immunity is not a reliable strategy for combating COVID-19. It is due to a lack of important data about transmission frequency after infection. We do not know how long it takes from initial infection for a person to be vulnerable again.

The race for a vaccine

At this time, five vaccines are being tested. These vaccines are being tested by:

  • AstraZeneca
  • Janssen
  • Moderna
  • Novavax
  • Pfizer

AHA, AMA, ANA seeks safe COVID-19 vaccine

Recently, the American Health Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Nurses Association addressed the American people about the status of the COVID-19 vaccine. They have given their full support to the creation of a safe vaccine. All three groups consider it to be the best option for safeguarding communities around the world. They cited the importance of scientific testing, safe distribution and total transparency about the vaccine within the address. They collectively want people to know the benefits and risks associated with the vaccine.

Become informed

The rate of vaccine production might seem like a cause for concern, but it is not. The same level of quality control used in the past is present with the manufacturing of these vaccines. The creation of these vaccines is the combination of good science and a unified need for relief.

For more information about how Tri-County Health Care and how it has been combating COVID-19, visit TCHC.org/coronavirus.