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A. "If you get the tick out within 24 hours, you have maybe a 5 percent chance of contracting Lyme," says Daniel Cameron, MD, an internist in Mount Kisco, New York. But proper tick removal is essential (tweeze and pull from the head; pinching the body could squeeze infected blood into your system). Since it's often not clear when you picked up the bug, always check with your doc. Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that can cause a bull's-eye rash, flulike symptoms, and swollen joints, may not be detected until six weeks or longer post-bite. Therefore, some doctors offer the antibiotic doxycycline as a means to stop the illness from developing. If you'd rather take your chances (and avoid the drug's upset-stomach side effects) watch carefully for symptoms like dizziness and joint pain for at least a month and a half, then visit your doc for a once-over.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, May 2010.