About Ticks And Lyme Disease
Ticks are small crawling bugs in the spider family. They are arachnids, not insects. There are hundreds of different kinds of ticks in the world. Many of them carry bacteria, viruses or other pathogens that cause disease in humans and/or animals.
In the midwestern and eastern United States, Ixodes scapularis or deer tick is the primary vector of Lyme disease. On the West Coast, the spirochete is carried by Ixodes pacificus or western black-legged tick. In the South, lone star ticks can also transmit Lyme disease or a closely related illness.
Ticks have four life stages: egg, larva, nymph and adult. In each stage after hatching, they suck blood from animals like mice, squirrels, birds and deer. Then they drop off, enter a dormant period and molt to enter the next stage.
Ticks dont start out being infected with Lyme. They get it by feeding on an infected animal, often a mouse or other small rodent. Then, they pass it along to the next animal or person they bite.
What Should I Do If I Am Bitten By A Tick
If you experience a tick bite, the best way to remove it is by taking the following steps:
- Tug gently but firmly with blunt tweezers near the “head” of the tick at the level of your skin until it releases its hold on the skin.
- Avoid crushing the tick’s body or handling the tick with bare fingers as you could exposure yourself to the bacteria in the tick.
- Wash the bite area thoroughly with soap and water.
- DO NOT use kerosene, petroleum jelly , or hot cigarette butts to remove the tick.
- DO NOT squeeze the tick’s body with your fingers or tweezers.
History And Physical Examination
The clinical diagnosis of Lyme disease can be straightforward in patients with a history of tick exposure and the characteristic finding of an erythema migrans rash.12 The CDC has defined erythema migrans rash as an expanding red macule or papule that must reach at least 5 cm in size .11 According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America guidelines, erythema migrans rash is the only clinical manifestation sufficient to make the diagnosis of Lyme disease in the absence of laboratory confirmation.20 Although one study concluded that primary care physicians in a Lyme diseaseendemic area of France correctly identified erythema migrans in 72 percent of patients,22 the study was limited by lack of complete clinical information for the participants.
A number of conditions resemble erythema migrans however, the rapid and prolonged expansion of an erythematous lesion is unique to erythema migrans.11 Lesions most often occur at anatomic sites that are unusual for cellulitis and other conditions that mimic erythema migrans therefore, a complete skin examination should be performed before excluding erythema migrans.20
Also Check: Chance Of Lyme Disease From Deer Tick
How Do I Remove A Tick
You should know how to remove a tick just in case one lands on you or a friend. To be safe, remove the tick as soon as possible.
If you find a tick:
- Use tweezers to grasp the tick firmly at its head or mouth, next to your skin.
- Pull firmly and steadily on the tick until it lets go of the skin. If part of the tick stays in your skin, don’t worry. It will eventually come out. But call your doctor if you notice any irritation in the area or symptoms of Lyme disease.
- Swab the bite site with alcohol.
Note: Don’t use petroleum jelly or a lit match to kill a tick. They won’t get the tick off your skin quickly enough, and may just cause it to burrow deeper into your skin.
What Are The Stages Of Lyme Infection
There are three stages:
- Early localized Lyme: Flu-like symptoms like fever, chills, headache, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, and a rash that looks like a bull’s-eye or is round and red and at least 2 inches long
- Early disseminated Lyme: Flu-like symptoms like pain, weakness, or numbness in your arms and legs, changes in your vision, heart palpitations and chest pain, a rash , and a type of facial paralysis known as Bellâs palsy
- Late disseminated Lyme: This can happen weeks, months, or years after the tick bite. Symptoms might include arthritis, severe fatigue and headaches, dizziness, trouble sleeping, and confusion.
About 10% of people treated for Lyme infection donât shake the disease. They may go on to have three core symptoms: joint or muscle pain, fatigue, and short-term memory loss or confusion. This is called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome. It can be hard to diagnose because it has the same symptoms as other diseases. Plus, there isn’t a blood test to confirm it.
Experts arenât sure why Lyme symptoms donât always go away. One theory is that your body keeps fighting the infection even after the bacteria are gone, like an autoimmune disorder.
Don’t Miss: New York Times Lyme Disease
Treatment Following A Tick Bite
- In some circumstances, a single dose of antibiotic given within 72 hours of a tick bite might prevent the development of Lyme disease. Several criteria must be met:
- The tick must be identified as the blacklegged tick .
- The tick must have been attached for at least 36 hours .
- The tick bite occurred in a highly endemic area
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.
You May Like: How To Get A Tick Checked For Lyme Disease
See A Doctor First If You Are Bitten By A Deer Tick
It is important to be aware of tick populations in your region. Take immediate action if bitten. Lyme disease is a severe condition that can change the course of someones life forever. But while cannabis use may help treat symptoms, it shouldnt replace the now standard treatment protocol of antibiotics provided by a licensed professional.
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.
Don’t Miss: How Do I Know If My Lyme Disease Is Cured
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 dont 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, .
Also Check: Common Signs Of Lyme Disease
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.
Also Check: Rife Machine Treatment For Lyme Disease
Cannabis And Lyme Disease: Symptom Management Over Cure
Dr. Daniel Kinderlehrer is a leading expert on Lyme disease. He is adamant that cannabis does not directly treat Lyme disease. Rather, he says, supplementation of CBD may provide benefits that address some of the symptoms. With his own patients, he found it to be beneficial.
The benefits he cites are the analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties. He says they are valuable as an adjunct to the pharmaceutical treatments of tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease.
The persistent nature of Lyme disease also makes it unique. Reoccurrence is common even after antibiotic treatment. In such cases, the prolonged use of antibiotics presents yet further problems in patients. As a result, Dr Kinderlehrer recommends cannabis to manage symptoms for ongoing chronic cases of Lyme disease.
Womans calf showing a bulls eye rash from a tick bite See a doctor if you have this.
How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Lyme Disease Or Other Tick
Recommendations on preventing ticks include these from AKCs Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Jerry Klein:
- Inspect your dogs and yourself daily for ticks after walks through the woods or grassy settings. On dogs, look especially on the feet , on lips, around eyes, ears , near the anus, and under the tail.
- Remove ticks stat. The quicker you find them the less likely your dog will contract a secondary illness related to tick bites. Learn the proper method of tick removal. Invest in a pair of fine tweezers used for this purpose. If you are unable to do so, consult with a veterinarian.
- Ask your veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam. Theyll be able to find any you may have missed.
- Prevent ticks from jumping on your dog with one of the many veterinary-approved flea and tick preparations available on the market. Speak to your veterinarian to find the best and most appropriate product for your dog.
- Keep grass mowed as short as possible. Refrain from walking into grassy patches in endemic tick areas if you can.
- Get your dog vaccinated. Vaccination could prevent your dog from getting Lyme disease. They may not be appropriate for some dogs, so discuss with your vet.
Read Also: Stage 2 Lyme Disease Treatment
What Are The Clinical Signs Of Lyme Disease
Some people with Lyme disease develop a characteristic bull’s-eye rash at the site of the bite within three to thirty days. If this occurs, the disease can be easily diagnosed at an early stage.
However, signs of Lyme disease are more difficult to detect in animals than in people. The characteristic rash does not develop in dogs or cats. In fact, Lyme disease is practically unheard of in cats.
“Affected dogs have been described as if they were walking on eggshells.”
Many dogs affected with Lyme disease are taken to a veterinarian because they seem to be experiencing generalized pain and have stopped eating. Affected dogs have been described as if they were walking on eggshells. Often these pets have high fevers. Dogs may also begin limping. This painful lameness often appears suddenly and may shift from one leg to another. If untreated, it may eventually disappear, only to recur weeks or months later.
Some pets are infected with the Lyme disease organism for over a year before they finally show symptoms. By this time, the disease may be widespread throughout the body. Non-specific signs which may indicate that Lyme disease is affecting the kidneys include vomiting, lethargy, anorexia , and weight loss. The kidney form of the disease is less common, but often fatal.
When To Treat An Acute Tick Bite: Cdc/idsa Recommendation
Acute Asymptomatic Tick Bites
The CDC/IDSA only recommend antibiotics for an asymptomatic tick bite without a rash when the following conditions are met:
- The black legged deer tick is attached for 36 hours or more and
- The tick bite occurs in a state or county with large amounts of Lyme in ticks. For practical purposes this means CT, DE, DC, MA, MD, ME, MN, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VA, VT, WI, WV.
- Treatment is started within 72 hours of the bite.
I strongly disagree with the CDC/IDSA position for the person who has a tick bite without symptoms or a rash. It is true that the longer a tick is attached, the greater the odds of getting Lyme. For instance, studies on transmission rates of infected ticks feeding on mice show no transmission of Lyme at 24 hours, 11% by 48 hours, 44% by 60 hours, and 94% by 96 hours. However, many ILADS physicians, including me, report Lyme disease from ticks attached less than 24 hours. In addition, Lyme spreads from ticks even in areas of the country where Lyme is rare. When it is followed, the CDC/IDSA position results in too many cases of chronic Lyme disease.
Symptomatic Tick Bites
If a person has a black legged deer tick bite and develops flu-like symptoms, neurologic symptoms, a bulls eye rash, or an illness with a fever, CDC/IDSA do agree that a person should receive antibiotics. I agree with this position.
You May Like: Side Effects Of Lyme Disease In Humans
Diagnosis Of Lyme Disease
to take a sample of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord . Fragments of the bacteriaâs genetic material may be present and detected using the polymerase chain reaction technique Polymerase chain reaction Genetic diagnostic technologies are scientific methods that are used to understand and evaluate an organism’s genes. Genes are segments of deoxyribonucleic… read more . This technique produces many copies of a gene and enables doctors to identify Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria rapidly.
Which Ticks Should I Worry About
Nymphal ticks cause most cases of Lyme disease. Because nymphs are as small as poppy seeds and their bite is painless, people often dont realize they have been bitten. Adult ticks can also infect humans, but are easier to spot and remove.
Not all ticks are infected. Because tick studies have only been done in a relatively few places, in most of the US, tick infection rates are unknown. Even in places where ticks generally do not carry Lyme, there may be hotspots of infection depending on local conditions. The tick infection rate may also change from year to year, even in one location.
To get a better idea of which tick-borne diseases have been found in your area, check this site.
Also Check: Lyme Disease Home Test Kit
Who Gets Lyme Disease
Anyone bitten by an infected deer tick can get Lyme disease. Most U.S. cases of Lyme disease happen in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. But Lyme disease is found in other parts of the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia too.
How To Prevent Picking Up A Tick Carrying Lyme Disease
Of course, the best tool to keep a tick from making us sick is by preventing them from attaching to us at all! Knowing where ticks live, how to repel them, and what to do if one is embedded in your dog, are all tools to protect you from all dangerous tick-related illnesses. In our article about how to get rid of ticks on your body and in your yard, we go into more detail. We also go over how to kill ticks on dogs, what ticks look like, and plenty of other ways to protect yourself and your pets in our other tick articles too!
Don’t Miss: Lyme Disease Symptoms Mayo Clinic
Perform Tick Checks After Coming In From The Out Of Doors And Showering
- The risk of getting Lyme disease is greater the longer a tick is attached. Therefore, doing tick checks is important so they can be removed before they transmit Lyme disease.
- Shower daily.
- Common sites of attachment: behind knees, underarm, scalp, navel, groin, buttocks, back.
The most important thing is to get ticks off of you before they attach and have the chance to transmit Lyme disease.
Tick checks are performed two ways:
- Physical Inspections or feeling for ticks, because ticks are very small, and sometimes arent seen. By feeling for ticks, you may discover ticks that are in hidden areas, such as behind your knee or in your armpit, where you wouldnt be able to easily see them.
- Visual inspections should be done as well, looking for the very small pinpoint-sized dark specks that are the nymph stage ticks present at this time of the year.
You may need help from somebody to look on your back for ticks. Parents should inspect their childs entire body daily for ticks.