Which Ticks Carry Lyme Disease
There are hundreds of different kinds of ticks throughout the world. The Ixodes tick, commonly called a black-legged tick, are ticks that carry Lyme disease. In the eastern and mid-western U.S, the primary species is Ixodes scapularis and the related western U.S. version is the Ixodes pacificus .
These ticks that carry Lyme disease can also carry bacterial co-infections, such as Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis. While Lyme disease is the most common infection from a tick, co-infections can complicate ones Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment. Learn more about ticks and the other diseases they can cause in the U.S.
Should I Be Tested For Lyme Disease After A Tick Bite
Lyme testing relies on detecting antibodies the bodys reaction to the germ not the germ itself. It takes time for the body to make antibodies, at least a couple of weeks after you have become infected. Someone with symptoms of very early Lyme disease is likely to have a negative Lyme antibody test. On the other hand, false positive Lyme tests can happen, so someone without symptoms of Lyme disease who tests positive is unlikely to really have the disease. Testing for Lyme disease shortly after a tick bite is not helpful, says Dr. Baer and may lead to a prescription for a medication that you just dont need.
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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What You Need To Know About Blacklegged Ticks And Lyme Disease
Although biting insects are annoying, most cause no harm to humans or animals. The exceptions are the blood-feeding pests that can vector many etiological pathogens, such as mosquitoes and ticks. In the U.S., the Black Legged tick, also known as the deer tick, can spread the Lyme disease bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi. The related species in Europe is the Castor Bean Tick and the Taiga tick in Asia. Dog ticks, Lone star ticks, and other types of ticks arent able to transmit Lyme disease.
Scientists predict the warming climate will cause an increase in reported cases of tick-borne illnesses in many regions. This is mostly caused by the population explosion of the white-footed mice population, which carry Lyme disease.
Here we discuss what you need to know about the Lyme disease tick and best practices to avoid bites.
How Long Does The Tick Need To Be Attached To Cause Infection
The CDC states that it takes at least 36 hours before a tick can transmit Lyme disease. The tick must have taken a blood meal to transfer the disease to the host. If you are sure the tick has been attached for less than 36 hours, then you are in the clear. If you are unsure, one way to tell is to look at the engorgement of the tick. Engorgement is swelling of the tick as your blood enters its body. The more engorged the tick, the more blood it has taken. Engorgement takes more than 24 hours, so if engorged, then the tick has likely been present for at least 24 hours, if not longer.
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When Should I Be Concerned About A Tick Bite
Make sure you see a doctor if you notice the following: The bite area shows some signs of infection including swelling, pain, warmth, or oozing pus. Development of symptoms like headache, fever, stiff neck or back, tiredness, or muscle or joint aches. Part of the tick remains in the skin after removal.
Are Seed Ticks Dangerous
Just because theyre small doesnt mean seed ticks dont pack a punch. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , seed ticks are actually the most likely to transmit Lyme disease or another tick-borne infection to humans than ticks at other stages, in part because they are so difficult to see and may remain on the body for so long. Their saliva contains an anesthetic, which means you are highly unlikely to feel their bites and, while they may not attach right away, it has now been shown that certain tick-borne illnessessuch as Babesiosiscan be transmitted within minutes of being bitten. Seed ticks are most active in the spring and summer months, so now is the time to be aware of them and the problems they can cause.
Having your yard treated for not only these tiny ticks but also their adult relatives is the best way to stay safe while at home. Aronica Plant Healthcare offers a family and pet-safe spray that can keep your yard safe from ticks. While away from home, make sure to use a repellent containing DEET to keep your family safe. Long pants and sleeves are also a good method to protect yourself if you are out near grassy or wooded areas. Remember, if they cant reach your skin, the ticks cant bite you.
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Its Unclear How Long Ticks Must Be Attached To You To Transmit Infections
Should you happen to quickly find a tick embedded in your skin, dont assume you have no chance of contracting Lyme disease or another tick-borne infection.
The CDC states that a tick must be attached to a host for 24-48 hours to transmit Lyme disease. But a 2015 review stated that the minimum attachment time for transmission of an infection has never been established.
That study also brought to light six documented cases of Lyme disease that had been transmitted in less than 6 hours. Plus, the other diseases that ticks carry such as babesiosis and bartonellosis may occur within minutes after a tick has latched onto your skin.
What does this mean for you? While the transmission risks may be lower the less time a tick is attached to you, the risk isnt completely eliminated if you find an embedded tick and remove it before 24 hours has passed.
Also, keep in mind, many people may not know how or when they acquired a tick bite, making it very difficult to calculate the length of time it was attached for.
Why Are Ticks So Bad In Colorado This Year
The mild winter across the country, heavy spring rains, and hot summer temperatures are creating perfect conditions for ticks, experts say. This means hikers and campers, excited to get outside after the last year of the pandemic, should be extra cautious as they head out to the trails and forests this summer.
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How To Avoid Getting A Tick Bite
You might be at risk if you live, work in, or visit a wooded area, or an area with tall grasses and bushes .
You may also be at risk if you are involved in outdoor activities such as hiking, camping and gardening.
You may be bitten by a tick and not even know it.
Heres what you can do to avoid getting a tick bite.
How Big Are Ticks
In my mind, a tick is about the size of an apple seed. But, this is only true if it is an adult tick. Nymphs are about the size of poppy seeds and larvae are about the size of a grain of sand.
Most people with Lyme disease are bitten by the poppy-seed size of ticksthe nymphs. Adult ticks also carry the bacteria, but these apple-seed-sized ticks are much easier to see and remove .
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Are Newer More Effective Treatments On The Horizon
Lewis team has developed a possible treatment that uses a targeted antibiotic to eradicate the spiral-shaped bacterium causing Lyme disease that doesnt appear to harm the gut microbiome the way broad spectrum antibiotics such as doxycycline appear to do.
Its possible that damage to the microbiome is associated with the cardiac, neurological and immune system problems associated with chronic Lyme, Lewis says.
Treatment with the antibiotic known as Hygromycin A has cleared Lyme disease in lab mice, Lewis says.
His team has licensed the compound to a biotech company called Flightpath for further development and a clinical investigation.
If all goes well with Flightpaths plans, it will still be a couple of years before Hygromycin A is tested in FDA-approved trials, Lewis says.
This just shows you the importance of preventing a tick bite in the first place, says Dapsis, who calls himself an anti-Lyme evangelist.
He says Lyme disease isnt just a New England problem. Its in 49 statesevery state but Hawaii.
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 Is Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is an infection caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. This spiral shaped bacterium is most commonly spread by a tick bite. The disease takes its name from Lyme, Connecticut. This is where the illness was first identified in the United States in 1975.
Although Lyme disease is a year-round problem, April through October is considered tick season. Cases of Lyme disease have been reported in nearly all states in the U.S. and in large areas in Europe and Asia, but the most common areas are the Northeast, upper Midwest and northwestern states.
What’s The Most Important Thing People Can Do To Protect Themselves
Read about the disease. If you are in an area where Lyme disease is frequently diagnosed, learn how to protect yourself and how to recognize symptoms. Get antibiotic treatment started quickly if you or your doctor suspects you might have early Lyme diseasedo not wait for lab test results. In most cases, people with Lyme disease will recover with no problem.
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What About Insect Repellent
Consider using EPA-registered insect repellents:
- DEET can be applied to exposed skin. Products that contain 20% or more DEET can provide protection that lasts up to several hours. Use the lowest concentration that you will need for the amount of time you will be outdoors.
- Picaridin is a colorless, nearly odorless ingredient that can be applied to exposed skin in a range of 5 to 20% of the active ingredient.
- Permethrin: Clothes, shoes and camping gear can be treated or purchased pretreated with permethrin. Its protection can last through many washes. Never apply permethrin to skin.
The New York State Health Department recommends taking these precautions when using repellents that contain these active ingredients:
If Youve Been Bitten By A Tick Youll Want To Remove It Asap
If you find a tick on your body, youll want to remove it as soon as possible. In general, a tick needs to be attached to your body for at least 36 hours to transmit Lyme disease, but other infections can be transmitted within hours or even less time.
If you can get to your primary care doctor or dermatologist quickly, he or she can remove the tick with appropriate tools that are sure to get the full tick out.
If removing yourself, use tweezers or commercially available tick-removal tools. Grab the ticks mouthparts as close to the skin as possible and pull straight out, Ostfeld says. Dont worry if you squish the tick or leave a small speck of black on your skin. Thats not a big deal. Swab it with alcohol or something else to prevent infection, he says.
The longer theyre in you, the more likely they are to transmit pathogens, so you want to get them out as quickly as possible, Ostfeld adds.
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Here Are Risk Factors For Lyme Disease:
- Having a tick attached to your skin for more than 36 hours
- Exposing a lot of skin while outdoors
- Working an outdoor job
- Living in a heavily wooded area
While not all species carry Lyme, many other varieties do sometimes carry other diseases. After removing any tick from your body, make sure to be on the lookout for any signs of sickness. Again, not every tick will transmit disease, but any tick bite has the potential.
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How Is Lyme Disease Transmitted
Not all deer ticks are infected with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Ticks can become infected if they feed on small animals that are infected. The disease can be spread when an infected tick bites a person and stays attached for a period of time. In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36 hours or more before the bacteria can be transmitted. Lyme disease does not spread from one person to another. Transfer of the bacteria from an infected pregnant woman to the fetus is extremely rare.
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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 bull’s-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.
What Progress Has Been Made Toward A Better Quicker Test For Lyme Disease
Among some of the new technologies being studied is a test of skin taken from the characteristic red rash that many people get with Lyme disease. There’s also research into a more sensitive blood test that can detect the germs not only from Lyme disease, but also several other tick-related illnesses.
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Infection Prevention And Control
- Wear light coloured clothing to help spot ticks
- Use insect repellents that contain DEET or Icaridin. Always follow the manufacturers instructions.
- Do daily full body checks on yourself, your children and pets after coming in from the outdoors
- Cut your grass and dipope of leaf litter where ticks can live.
- Outdoor workers should shower or bathe within two hourrs of being in forested or long grass areas
How Do Ticks Find A Host
Ticks are cheeky little bloodsuckers. They have a keen sense of smell and are able to detect animals breath and body odors. They can also sense body heat, moisture, and vibrations.
They smell, they sense, and then they wait. Ticks cant fly or jump, but they sure do know how to wait, making a difficult, tiring search for a host by patiently holding onto leaves or grass by their third and fourth pair of legs. Then, with their first pair of legs outstretched, unbeknownst to the host, they quickly climb onto their next meal.
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When Will You Be Outside Where Will You Be
Some pests are more active at certain times. For example, some mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn. Ticks may be active at any time of day. Some places are more likely to have higher activity too. Mosquitoes generally live in areas with brush and trees. Ticks prefer areas with tall grass, brush and trees.
I Just Found A Tick Attached To Me What Should I Do
Dont panic. First, remove the tick with a pair of tweezers. Grasp the tick close to the skin and pull directly upwards until the tick comes free.
Try to remove the tick whole. If you do, it is likely the tick will still be alive and moving.
Place the tick in a plastic bag or other sealed container. Try to identify what kind of tick it is that bit you. An online tick identification chart, like the one from the University of Rhode Islands TickEncounter Resource Center may be helpful. If you are not sure what type of tick bit you, it is best to bring it to your doctor or someone else who can identify ticks.
Its important to remember that Lyme disease is not the only infection spread by deer ticks, and deer ticks are not the only ticks that can spread infections. After any tick bite, you should monitor your health. If you develop a high fever or chills, you should seek medical attention, and be sure to mention to the doctor that you have recently had a tick bite.
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When To Seek Medical Help
If you develop a rash after being exposed to ticks, you can draw around the rash with a pen and take a photo. This way, you can check if the rash expands.
- The rash is 5 cm in diameter or larger
- The rash lasts more than 48 hours
- You believe you have one or more other symptoms of Lyme disease within days, weeks or months after engaging in outdoor activities where you may be exposed to ticks
If you have noted a bite, provide the information you noted concerning the bite:
- The part of the body that was bitten
- The date and the place you were when you were bitten
If you consult a doctor, bring the tick, if possible, in a closed container such as a pill container.