What You Need To Know About Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is an infection caused by the spiral-shaped bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is most commonly transmitted by a tick bite.
There are over 300,000 estimated new cases of Lyme disease in the United States each year.
The symptoms of Lyme disease depend on the how long the infection has been present in the body. The first sign of Lyme disease is often an expanding round or oval red “bullseye” rash.
If left untreated, people may develop neurological symptoms and heart problems, and have an approximately 60 percent chance of developing Lyme arthritis.
How Is Lyme Disease Treated
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:
How old you are
Lyme disease in the earliest stage is usually treated with antibiotics for 2 to 3 weeks.
Treatment will also be considered based on these and other factors:
If you are bitten by a tick that tests positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease
If you are bitten by a tick and have any of the symptoms
If you are bitten by a tick and are pregnant
If you are bitten by a tick and live in a high-risk area
What Should I Do If I Get Bitten By A Deer Tick
The first thing to do is to determine if what bit you was, in fact, a deer tick at all. Deer ticks are far smaller than all other types of ticks, and have distinctly black legs. If you believe that it was a deer tick that bit you, watch out for these signs as they may be early indicators of Lyme Disease:
- extreme fatigue
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What Are The Signs Of Lyme Disease
Looking out for symptoms of Lyme disease, and checking yourself for ticks after you go to green spaces where they may be presentis very important. Prompt tick removal can reduce your chances of acquiring Lyme disease.
Rapidly recognising symptoms can ensure that if you are developing the disease you can receive the earliest diagnosis and treatment from your GP. If you are bitten by an infected tick your symptoms will typically develop 1-4 weeks after being bitten, however, they can appear anytime between 3 to30 days after exposure.
Symptoms include a spreading circular red rash, which may appear as a bulls-eye rash like the image below, as well as non-specific flu-like symptoms. Although a lot of people associate the disease with the rash, 1/3 of people dont report seeing one.
Other signs to look out for include muscle or nerve pains or a drooping facial appearance when the nerves to the muscles around the upper part of the face are affected.
If you have developed symptoms after being bitten by a tick or spending time outdoors, immediately contact your GP or call NHS 111, mentioning where you have been and if you remember being bitten.
Gaining A Better Understanding Of Lyme Disease
Improved diagnosis and prevention of Lyme disease are at the heart of a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Guelph.
In a first-ever study, experts are linking internet search activity with local infection rates that can help provide public health units a tool to monitor that spread and warn people about Lyme hotspots.
“Our study was looking at search activity in Google Trends through the general public,” explained Dr. Olaf Berke, a statistical epidemiology professor in the Department of Population Medicine in the Ontario Veterinary College. ” looking for the keyword ‘Lyme disease’, and the idea is that when people look more frequently for this disease, we might pick up signals through those Google searches, and chances are people are going to be looking for this because they have been exposed and they want to learn more.
We don’t know exactly where this Lyme disease is, but maybe this search engine can give us a clue, added Berke.
The team looked at reports of Lyme disease from 28 public health units in southern Ontario between 2015 and 2019. The researchers then compared that information with Google Trends data for the same regions and years.
To learn more about the researchers’ analysis of Lyme disease in southern Ontario utilizing Google Trends searches, .
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Use Pointy Tweezers For Nymph Or Larval Ticks
Nymph ticks are incredibly tiny. They are almost impossible to grasp at the head with normal tweezers or tick tools. A pair of pointy tweezers are the only real way to remove these tiny ticks. I use these tweezers.
Larval and nymph ticks are so small that you cannot remove them with most tick tools. Youll need finely-pointed tweezers.
How Can You Reduce Tick Habitats Near Your Home
Here are some ways to limit exposure to ticks near your home:
- Mow the lawn regularly to keep the grass short
- Remove leaf litter, brush and weeds at the edge of the lawn and around stonewalls and woodpiles
- Stack firewood neatly and in a dry area
- Put barriers to exclude deer around your home and seal stonewalls and small openings to discourage rodent activity
- Place children’s recreational playground sets, patios and decks away from the yard edges and trees. Place them on a woodchip or mulch foundation and in a sunny location, if possible.
- Treat pets that are commonly exposed to ticks with oral or topic acaricides as they could carry ticks into the home
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How To Properly Remove A Tick
If youve been bitten by a tick, its important to follow the proper removal procedure to reduce the risk of contracting Lyme disease:
- Find a pair of very sharp tweezers with a needle tip
- Grab the tick as close to the skin as possible
- Lift up from the skin and hold
- Wait until the tick releases
Be aware that the tick could take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes to release. Its important to be patient so that the tick naturally unhooks its mouthparts.
When removing a tick, Do NOT:
- Yank it out suddenly
- Apply salves or essential oils
Most alternatives methods for tick removal arent backed by solid science and could actually increase your chances of contracting Lyme disease from an infected tick. These methods tend to irritate the tick. Irritated ticks use jet propulsion through rapid regurgitation to quickly remove their mouthparts. As the tick expels its blood meal to escape, it can transmit infected blood back into your bloodstream and increase the likelihood of infection.
What Should You Do If You Find A Tick
Don’t touch the tick with your bare hand.
Use a pair of tweezers to remove the tick. Grab the tick firmly by its mouth or head as close to your skin as possible.
Pull up slowly and steadily without twisting until it lets go. Don’t squeeze the tick, and don’t use petroleum jelly, solvents, knives, or a lit match to kill the tick.
Save the tick. Place it in a plastic container or bag so it can be tested for disease, if needed.
Wash the bite area well with soap and water and put an antiseptic lotion or cream on the site.
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Deer Ticks May Be Going On Hike With You Too
As we mentioned earlier, deer ticks are very common in the northeast. They like to hide in woodsey areas and grassy plains. So, if youre out for a hike or are doing some yard work, its important to perform a THOROUGH tick check when you get home to make sure that a tick has not latched onto you.
Its also important that if you are out and about, that youre wearing long pants, socks and long sleeves to avoid a tick from latching onto your skin right away. The truth is, ticks are very sneaky and if they latch onto you for more than 36-48 hours, chances are you will get Lyme disease. The way they transmit Lyme disease is by regurgitating the contents from their digestive tract into your bloodstream.
When To Seek Medical Attention
Visit your health-care provider for assistance in removing a deeply embedded tick as soon as possible if:
- you are not comfortable with removing a tick
- you cannot safely remove the whole tick
If you develop a rash, fever or flu-like symptoms within 30 days of a known tick exposure, talk to your health-care provider about your recent tick bite, when it occurred and where you likely acquired the tick. A health-care provider does not require a tick in order to make diagnoses. However, if the tick is available, it may be submitted for further testing at the request of your health-care provider.
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Diagnosis Testing And Treatment
You may have heard that the blood test for Lyme disease is correctly positive only 65% of the time or less. This is misleading information. As with serologic tests for other infectious diseases, the accuracy of the test depends upon how long youve been infected. During the first few weeks of infection, such as when a patient has an erythema migrans rash, the test is expected to be negative.
Several weeks after infection, FDA cleared tests have very good sensitivity.
It is possible for someone who was infected with Lyme disease to test negative because:
If you are pregnant and suspect you have contracted Lyme disease, contact your physician immediately.
- Report being bitten by a tick, or
- Live in, or have recently visited, a tick-infested area.
What’s The Best Way To Prevent A Tick Bite
Ticks can’t fly or jump. But they live in shrubs and bushes and can grab onto you when you pass by. To avoid getting bitten:
- Wear pants and socks in areas with lots of trees and when you touch fallen leaves.
- Wear a tick repellent on your skin and clothing that has DEET, lemon oil, or eucalyptus.
- For even more protection, use the chemical permethrin on clothing and camping gear.
- Shower within 2 hours after coming inside. Look for ticks on your skin, and wash ticks out of your hair.
- Put your clothing and any exposed gear into a hot dryer to kill whatever pests might be on them.
How do you know if you’ve been bitten?
Since ticks are so small, you’ve got to have pretty good eyes to see them.
If you have a small, red bump on your skin that looks like a mosquito bite, it could be a tick bite. If it goes away in a few days, itâs not a problem. Remember, a tick bite doesnât necessarily mean you have Lyme disease.
If you notice a rash in the shape of a bull’s-eye, you might have a tick bite. Talk to your doctor about treatment.
If you have an allergic reaction to ticks, you’ll notice a bite right away.
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Other Ticks Other Diseases
Although it shares many symptoms with Lyme disease, the Powassan virus differs in that there is no treatment currently available for it. According to Dr. Theodore Andreadis, of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the virus can be fatal in some cases.
Powassan virus can also be transmitted much quicker than Lyme disease. These ticks will transmit this virus when they feed within a matter of hours, whereas with Lyme disease, for example, ticks generally have to feed up to 2 days before theyre capable of transmitting it, Dr. Andreadis told CBS New York.
Dr. Andreadis also stated that there have yet to be any reported human cases of the virus in this region, but people should be more careful than ever when venturing into woodland environments that could be home to ticks carrying these pathogens.
Lyme disease and Powassan virus are not the only conditions that can be spread by the blacklegged tick. Other diseases transmitted by this species include anaplasmosis and babesiosis.
Of course, blacklegged ticks are not the only species of tick known to spread disease to humans. Across the US, for instance, a number of different species can be found that carry a variety of different pathogens potentially dangerous to humans.
Another tick to look out for is the Rocky Mountain wood tick, found in the Rocky Mountain states at elevations of 4,000 to 10,500 feet. These creatures can carry pathogens that cause Colorado tick fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia.
Keep A Lookout For Symptoms From Tick Bite This Summer
Have you checked yourself or your child for tick bites lately?
If you havent already heard, this summer is a particularly booming year for tick populations across the country and in the state of Ohio. A black-legged tick , the kind that sometimes carries Lyme disease, was spotted just to the east of us in Vermilion earlier this summer. And Ohio is on the list of 24 states that contains counties with newly documented populations of deer ticks.
Tick bites are common. Some people are unaware of a tick bite at first. Be sure to check yourself and your children often, especially throughout the summer months when tick populations grow. Ticks are especially attracted to warm, moist areas of the skin like armpits, groins, or hair. Once they bite you, a tick may stick around drawing your blood for up to 10 days. The sooner you spot and remove a tick, the better.
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Grab The Tick Close To The Head
If you grab the tick by its body, the body will probably rip off from the head. Youll end up with the ticks head stuck in your skin. This doesnt increase your chances of getting Lyme disease, but can cause irritation. Plus, it is gross to have an arachnid head stuck in you! Heres how to remove a tick head stuck in your skin.
Because the ticks head is partially inside your skin, it is nearly impossible to grasp it with your fingers. You will need a tool. The CDC recommends using fine-tipped tweezers. See these best tick removal tools for humans.
Whats Your Best Option To Prevent Lyme Disease
While there are other approaches to prophylaxis, the studies are scant, to be honest. The only really good studies out there are two performed on mice using a long-acting Doxycycline. This would be the equivalent to a 20-day dose of the Doxycycline in people. In the first study, the result was 100 percent prevention of Lyme disease. In the second study, the results was 100 percent prevention of Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis.
There havent been any studies similar to this one performed on humans, but this study serves as a decent model. A lot of us in the medical field believe that if you live in an area where Lyme disease is prevalent and deer tick bites you, then you really should get at least a 20-day course of an antibiotic to help prevent it. However, all we can really say in this case is that Doxycycline works well because we dont have an answer for other antibiotics.
Many practitioners I know will prescribe a 4-6 week treatment right off the bat. I tend to suggest a 3-week course, reassessing the patient right before that ends and determining if there is anything else that needs to be done.
Its important to note that the literature out there really doesnt show us that a single dose is going to work. The best we have are those two mouse studies that shows that 20-day Doxycycline course will work to prevent the transmission of Lyme.
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Lyme Disease Is On The Rise Again Here’s How To Prevent It
As it turns out, the chance of catching Lyme disease from an individual tick ranges from zero to roughly 50 percent, according to Mather. The exact probability depends on three factors: the tick species, where it came from and how long the tick was feeding.
First, Mather says it’s important to identify the species of tick.
Only two species of tick transmit Lyme disease, both from the genus Ixodes. The blacklegged tick , often referred to as the deer tick, is found throughout the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains. The Western blacklegged tick is found west of the Rockies.
Adults of both species have reddish-black bodies and are about the size of a sesame seed smaller than most other ticks. As juveniles, they’re even tinier roughly the size of a poppy seed.
If you’ve been bitten by something other than a blacklegged tick, you can stop worrying about Lyme. But Mather cautions that you may be at risk for other, less common infections, like Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Even if a blacklegged tick bit you, there’s still a good chance you’re OK. That’s because only a fraction of blacklegged ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
Where you live determines how many blacklegged ticks are carrying Lyme. A recent study found that in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, up to 50 percent of blacklegged ticks are infected. But in the South and West, infection rates are usually less than 10 percent.