Lyme Disease Test And Treatment
If you think you may have Lyme disease, contact your physician right away.
Your doctor may do a test for Lyme disease. The FDA regulates diagnostic tests to ensure that they are safe and effective. Its important to know that blood tests that check for antibodies to the bacterium that causes Lyme disease are not useful if done soon after a tick bite. It typically takes 2 to 5 weeks after a tick bite for initial antibodies to develop.
For this reason, your doctor may recommend treatment with antibiotics before the diagnostic tests are complete. According to the CDC, patients treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely.
Lyme Disease Symptoms What To Do After A Tick Bite
While there is no vaccine yet for Lyme disease, there is treatment for early Lyme disease and ways to help prevent contracting it.
Dr. Naila Kassam, a Toronto-based primary care physician and Think Researchs Senior Medical Advisor, sees patients in her family practice both virtually and in-person who were bitten by ticks and are concerned about Lyme disease.
Here, Kassam shares her expert advice on what to do if youre bitten by a tick, the symptoms of Lyme disease and how to protect yourself against pesky ticks.
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
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Who Gets Lyme Disease And At What Time Of Year
Lyme disease is transmitted via the bite of infected ticks, which attach to any part of the body, but often to moist or hairy areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp.
While everyone is susceptible to tick bites, campers, hikers, and people who work in gardens and other leafy outdoor venues are at the greatest risk of tick bites. As many a suburban gardener can attest, with the expansion of the suburbs and a push to conserve wooded areas, deer and mice populations are thriving, too, providing ample blood meals for ticks. For lyme disease to be transmitted, a tick needs to feed on the host for 24-48 hours.
In the majority of cases, tick bites are reported in the summer months when ticks are most active and people spend more time outdoors. But this can extend into the warmer months of early autumn, too, or even late winter if temperatures are unusually high. Similarly, a mild winter can allow ticks, much like other insects, to thrive and emerge earlier than usual.
What Precautions Can I Take Against Tick Bites
- Avoid wooded, brushy, and grassy areas, especially in May, June, and July.
- Wear light-colored clothing so that you can see ticks that get on you.
- Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and shoes that cover the entire foot.
- Tuck pant legs into socks or shoes, and tuck shirts into pants.
- Wear a hat for extra protection.
- Spray insect repellent containing DEET on clothes and uncovered skin.
- Walk in the center of trails to avoid brush and grass.
- Remove your clothing, and wash and dry them at high temperatures after being outdoors.
- Do a careful body check for ticks after outdoor activities.
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What Do You Do If Theres A Tick Under Your Skin
Use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to remove it as soon as possible. Pull upward with steady pressure. If parts of the tick are still in your skin, try to get those with the tweezers, too. After everything is out, clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
You probably wonât get infected if you remove the tick within 36 to 48 hours.
How do you throw away a tick?
Put it in soapy water or alcohol, stick it to a piece of tape, or flush it down the toilet.
What Are The Complications Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease affects people differently. Relapse and incomplete treatment responses happen. Relapse and incomplete treatment responses happen. Complications of untreated early-stage disease include:
Frequent hospitalizations to manage the disease
Some of these complications result in chronic, debilitating conditions.
Some people may develop post-Lyme disease syndrome . A condition also known as chronic Lyme disease includes PLDS, but also other syndromes. Usually, these are characterized by persistent musculoskeletal and peripheral nerve pain, fatigue, and memory impairment.
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Later Signs And Symptoms
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes on other areas of the body
- Facial palsy
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints.
- Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- Heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat
- Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
- Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
- Nerve pain
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Lyme Disease: Symptoms And Stages
Symptoms of early-stage Lyme disease include:
- muscle and joint aches
- swollen lymph nodes
Another common symptom of Lyme disease is a rash . As many as 80% of infected people may develop a rash, and roughly 20% of the time the rash has a characteristic bulls-eye appearance.
When left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
Later-stage symptoms may not appear until weeks or months after a tick bite occurs. They include:
- heart-rhythm irregularities
- nervous system abnormalities
Permanent damage to the joints or the nervous system can develop in patients with late Lyme disease. It is rarely, if ever, fatal.
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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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What Are The Chances Of Lyme Disease After A Tick Bite
Medically reviewed by Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD on August 11, 2020. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection thatâs transmitted through the bite of an infected deer tick. But what are the chances of Lyme disease after a tick bite? In this quick article, weâll cover what Lyme disease is, factors that increase your risk of getting it after a bite, and helpful tick bite preventative measures you can use to help avoid it.
Identifying Lyme Disease Symptoms
A deer tick usually needs to be attached to you for 24 to 48 hours to transmit Lyme disease, but other illnesses can be transmitted more quickly. Initial symptoms of Lyme disease that start 3-30 days after a deer tick bite include:
- an unusual rash that is spreading and often looks like a bullseye
- fever and chills
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How Long Does A Tick Need To Be Attached To Transmit Lyme Disease
Even if the tick is infected with Borrelia burgdorferi the risk of developing Lyme disease is low. The tick has to have taken a “blood meal” from the human host before it can pass along an infection. This means the tick has to be attached and feeding for more than 36 hours before it can transmit Lyme. A tick that has not yet attached to the skin is easy to remove or is not engorged when removed, could not have transmitted Lyme disease or any other infection. Thats why it is important to do regular “tick checks” on yourselves and your children so that ticks can be identified and removed quickly.
What Is Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by four different types of bacteria found in certain kinds of ticks . Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii are the Lyme bacteria that are commonly found in ticks in the United States, while Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii are native to Europe and Asia.
Lyme disease occurs when an infected blacklegged tick bites someone and transmits Lyme bacteria into that personâs bloodstream. These ticks get the Lyme bacteria when they feed on animals such as deer, birds, and rodents.
If left untreated, Lyme disease can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous systemâseriously hurting oneâs healthâso itâs a good idea to learn the symptoms, risk factors, and preventative measures you can take.
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What If A Tick Bites My Dog
The more ticks in your region, the likelier it is that your furry pal will bring them home.
Your dog is much more likely to be bitten by a tick than you are. And where Lyme disease is common, up to 25% of dogs have had it at some point.
About 10% of dogs with Lyme disease will get sick. 7-21 days after a tick bite, your dog might seem like theyâre walking on eggshells. They also might have a fever and enlarged lymph nodes. Plus, they might seem tired. Dogs also get antibiotics for Lyme.
What if my dog brings ticks into my home?
Use a tick control product on your pet to prevent Lyme disease. Also, have your dog vaccinated against Lyme.
Check your dogâs whole body each day for bumps. If you notice a swollen area, see if thereâs a tick there. If you find a tick, wear gloves while you use tweezers to separate it from your dog. Then, put it in soapy water or alcohol, or flush it down the toilet.
Use alcohol to clean the spot on your dog where the tick was attached. Keep an eye on that spot, and also on your dog to make sure theyâre behaving normally. If you notice any changes, check with your vet.
John Aucott, MD, assistant professor of medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine director, Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center.
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: âVital Signs: Trends in Reported Vectorborne Disease Cases — United States and Territories, 2004-2016.â
American College of Rheumatology.
If I Find An Engorged Tick On My Body Should I Get A Blood Test For Lyme Disease
No. The blood test for Lyme is not useful until two to six weeks after infection develops. It is best to remove the tick and monitor for symptoms. If signs or symptoms of Lyme disease develop see your health care provider to decide whether treatment is necessary. However, the blood tests for Lyme disease are useful and reliable in situations where the symptoms have been present for more than 30 days or it has been over 30 days since the known tick bite.
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What Causes Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria that is spread to humans by tick bites. The ticks that carry the spirochete are:
Black-legged deer tick
Western black-legged tick
Ticks prefer to live in wooded areas, low-growing grasslands, and yards. Not all ticks carry the Lyme disease bacteria. Depending on the location, anywhere from less than 1% to more than 50% of the ticks are infected with it.
While most tick bites are harmless, several species can cause life-threatening diseases. Tick-borne diseases include:
Rocky Mountain spotted fever
Should I Get Tested By The Nhs Or A Privately Funded Laboratory Is There A Difference
If patients have a recent tick exposure but no bulls eye rash, guidance to NHS doctors in England is to take a blood sample and send it for testing at an NHS or UKHSA laboratory.
The tests work by looking for antibodies that a person infected with Lyme disease would produce.
The antibodies take some time to reach levels that can be detected,therefore, tests carried out within the first 4 weeks of infection may be negative and may need to be repeated on a fresh blood sample taken 4 to 6 weeks after the first test.
We recommend people exercise caution with private tests and speak to their NHS doctor for advice before spending money on private tests or treatments, as some private laboratories and clinics offer tests and treatments for Lyme disease which may not be supported by scientific evidence.
Diagnostic tests done outside the NHS may also produce false positives where the test shows positive for Lyme disease when the patient doesnt actually have it. Our advice is to seek help through the NHS.
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What Can I Do To Lower My Chances Of Getting Lyme Disease Or Any Other Disease From Ticks
Prevention begins with you! Take steps to reduce your chances of being bitten by any tick. Ticks are most active during warm weather, generally late spring through fall. However, ticks can be out any time that temperatures are above freezing. Ticks cling to vegetation and are most numerous in brushy, wooded or grassy habitats. When you are outside in an area likely to have ticks , follow these simple steps to protect yourself and your loved ones:
How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed
Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose because symptoms are not consistent and may mimic other conditions. The primary symptom is a rash, but it may not be present in up to 20% of cases.
Diagnosis for Lyme disease must be made by a healthcare provider experienced in recognizing Lyme disease. Diagnosis is usually based on symptoms and a history of a tick bite. Testing is generally done to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions. This may need blood and other lab tests.
Research is underway to develop and improve methods for diagnosing Lyme disease.
The symptoms of Lyme disease may look like other medical conditions or problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
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Should I Remove A Tick And How
Yes, remove a tick. But do not manhandle the tick by squeezing it, putting Vaseline over it, or holding a hot match to it, as this may increase the chance of transmitting disease.
The tick should be removed with fine pointed tweezers. Grasp it from the side where it meets the skin, and, using steady gentle pressure, gently pull in the opposite direction from which it embedded, until the tick is released. Expect to see the skin tent as you gently pull. Place the tick in a lidded container or zip-lock bag. Wash and disinfect the bite site, your hands, and your tweezers. Avoid handling the tick.
If you use a tick removal device like a tick scoop or tick key, follow the directions given on the package for safe and effective use.
Prevention Of Lyme Disease
The treatment strategy for Lyme disease is highly effective and completely eradicates the disease. But prevention is always better than cure. Thus, following are the preventive measures that can be used to reduce the chances of Lyme disease:
- Wear the light color clothes in the areas where the chances for getting the tick bite is high as the tick is dark in color and can be easily identified.
- Body should be fully covered.
- Maintain dry environment as ticks are found in humid areas.
- Insect repellent should be used.
What If Mouthparts Of The Tick Remain In The Skin
Do not attempt to remove the mouthparts if they are left in the skin after tick removal. As long as the body of the tick has been removed it can no longer transmit infection. The mouthparts will come out over time naturally. Trying to remove these mouthparts can cause more trauma and may cause a local skin infection.