Protecting Your Dog From Ticks In Florida
Ticks only present a health concern if theyre allowed to feed on your dog for several hours or longer. This means early detection and removal of ticks can protect your dog before any lasting damage or infection can occur. You can also prevent the initial bite through the following safety measures:
- Inspectand consider washingyour dog after returning from outdoors.
- Keep dogs away from tall grasses and wooded areasand inspect their fur after leaving these areas.
- Clear brush and tall grasses near your home.
- Invest in residential landscaping that plants natural tick deterrents.
- Be extra vigilant during the spring and summer, when tick bites are most prevalent.
Dont let Florida ticks jeopardize your dogs health. Take the appropriate safety precautions when outdoors, and when in doubt about a tick bite, consult your local vet to determine whether your dog requires additional treatment.
How Can You Tell If A Tick Carries Lyme Disease
The most obvious way to tell if youve been infected with Lymedisease is to check for the telltale bulls-eye rash , which develops in some 75 percent of cases. If you know youve been bitten by a blacklegged tick, youll want to keep a close eye out for this rash around the site of the bite.
Raising Awareness Lowering Risks
For Kirsten Stein, the growing awareness of Lyme disease comes about a decade too late. Stein, 51, first became ill with the disease over Labor Day weekend in 2010. But it took 3 years — and more than a dozen doctors — before her condition was diagnosed.
In part, she said, thatâs because sheâs a resident of coastal Marin County, CA, where many doctors believed Lyme disease was rare or nonexistent.
âIt felt like the worst flu of my life and I never had anything so horrible ever,â said Stein, a wife and mother of two teenagers. âI had spreading numbness, severe foot pain, bone pain, Iâd get swelling in my hands and feet, shortness of breath, and the fatigue was beyond anything Iâd ever experienced.â
âIt was terrifying. I was very active and fit, and I couldnât get an answer to what was going wrong and why I was waking up with some new weird symptom for months at a time,â said Stein, an avid mountain biker and outdoor enthusiast. âI had three MRIs, I did countless blood tests, allergy tests, you name it. I went down every road I could.â
Eventually, her daughtersâ pediatrician suggested she go for Lyme disease testing after she told him about her symptoms.
Two months later, she was told she had tested positive for Lyme disease and two other bacterial infections.
Read Also: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Vs Lyme Disease
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.
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
You May Like: What Tick Has Lyme Disease
What Is Lyme Disease Anyway
Lyme disease is the most prevalent tick-borne disease in the United States. Its caused by a bacterium named Borrelia burgdorferi. According to some sources, each year there can be up to 30,000 new cases of Lyme disease diagnosed. And that number doesnt factor in cases that are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, meaning there may be a lot more people who are infected.
Odds Of Catching Lyme Disease From A Tick Bite
The chance of catching Lyme disease from an individual tick ranges from roughly zero to 50 percent. Risk of contracting Lyme disease from a tick bite depends on three factors: the tick species, where the tick came from, and how long it was biting you. Thats why the sooner you can remove the entire tick, the lower your chances of contracting a tick-borne disease.
Where we live makes a difference in these odds, too. We live in the upper Midwest, and unfortunately for us, a recent study found that up to 50 percent of blacklegged ticks are infected with Lyme disease. The Centers for Disease Control, however, state that it takes a tick 36 to 48 hours attached to the skin to transmit symptoms from tick bites and tick-borne disease.
Whether or not that timeframe is true, I cant say for sure. But I can say that Lyme disease is preventable, and taking a proactive approach to avoiding tick bites can save you a lot of aggravation. If you do spot a tick on yourself or your child, take them to the doctor or Firelands Regional Medical Center QuickCare, where they may be prescribed antibiotics. You can even opt to have the tick tested for Lyme disease.
Most of the time tick bites are harmless and symptoms from tick bites are rare. However general symptoms from tick bites include:
Dr. Mark Schmiedl
- Pain or swelling on the bite site
- Burning sensation on the bite site
- Red spot or rash near the bite site
- Full body rash
- Muscle or joint pain or achiness
You May Like: Does Lyme Disease Cause Headaches
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
I Found Out It Was A Deer Tick That Bit Me What Should I Do Now
If a deer tick bit you, one dose of an antibiotic called doxycycline can prevent Lyme disease if:
- you live in an area where there is a lot of Lyme disease
- the tick was probably attached to you for more than 36 hours
- the tick was removed in the last 3 days
Doxycycline should not be given to pregnant or breastfeeding women or to anyone allergic to doxycycline. If a tick bit you, ask your doctor if you should take doxycycline to prevent Lyme disease.
Is there anything I should look for after a tick bite?
After a tick bite, be on the look-out for signs of infection. The first sign of Lyme disease is usually a gradually enlarging, round or oval red discoloration of the skin surrounding the bite. The rash is usually neither painful nor itchy. Once the infection spreads, the same rash can be seen on other areas of the body. Other symptoms of infection may include:
- facial droop
- body aches.
Late manifestations of Lyme include swollen joints, and rarely neurologic problems like severe headaches. Lyme at any stage is treatable with a set course of antibiotics, typically two weeks and rarely more than a months duration.
Recommended Reading: Does Lyme Disease Stay With You Forever
Where Do We Find Ticks
Generally, you can find ticks where the animals they feed on live. This usually includes wooded and grassy areas. An adult tick quests for its next blood meal by climbing up grasses and bushes to wait for an animal to pass by. Nymphs and larvae are typically found in layers of decomposing leaves underneath trees. Ticks thrive in damp environments and are less active in hot, dry weather.
Tread Lightly In Deer Tick Territory To Prevent Lyme Disease
Last weekend I traveled to Roanoke, Va., and celebrated a college graduation at a home in the mountains.
As I talked to my friend Teresa, she brushed a hand across her hairline. “Oh, look. A tick,” she said calmly.
Teresa, a hospital infectious disease nurse manager, had no trouble identifying the tiny culprit, slightly smaller than a grain of rice. She suggested everyone check themselves for deer ticks, common in the woods there.
Deer ticks and the potentially serious disease some of them spread, Lyme disease, are not as plentiful in Florida as in points North. But it’s worth knowing how to identify them and what to do about them, particularly if you travel in the summer, the height of tick season.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2011, 96 percent of Lyme disease cases were found in just 13 states including New Jersey, New York, Maine, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and, yes, Virginia. Some of those states report thousands of cases.
In Florida, we had 78 confirmed cases of Lyme in 2011. Last year in Pinellas there were three cases, with slightly more in Hillsborough. “Very few of those are acquired in Florida,” said Michael Wiese, epidemiologist with the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County.
Without proper treatment, some people may develop facial drooping, memory issues, numbness, tingling and heart rhythm problems.
You May Like: My Dog Has Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease’s Cousin In The Northeast
Peter Krause has seen plenty of patients with Lyme disease. He has also seen his fair share of cases where classic symptoms suggest Lyme, but tests for the disease-causing bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, come back negative.
The Yale tick-borne diseases expert now says that in some instances, a related and recently discovered disease may be to blame. Borrelia miyamotoi elicits symptoms similar to its better-known bacterial cousin with two trademark exceptions: Patients do not get a bulls-eye rash, and they come down with a fever in which the symptoms relapse and remit over the course of about a year.
To track down the disease, Krause tested blood from people living in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, areas endemic for tick-borne disease. His analyses confirmed the presence of B. miyamotoi in 1 percent of healthy patients. Three percent of patients with Lyme-like symptoms tested positive for the antibody against the bacteria as well.
Lyme is still far more prevalent, but one characteristic gives B. miyamotoi a leg up: While ticks cannot pass Lyme spirochetes to tick offspring, B. myamotoi is transmitted from female to larvae through eggs. Thus, the relapsing fever can be spread by the bite of larval ticks as well as the customary nymphs that cause Lyme.
This will take a long, long time to fully understand, but a start has been made, Krause says. Breanna Draxler
How Can I Prevent Tick Bites
The best way to beat Lyme disease is to avoid the ticks that spread it. Ticks cannot jump or fly, and must wait for a passing animal to grab hold of. They live in areas with tall grass and bushes, and where there are thick layers of plant debris. They do not survive well on well trimmed lawns where the sun will quickly dry them out.
Keep your bushes well trimmed and your lawn free of garden debris. When walking in areas with tall grass or brush, it is important to cover arms and legs with long shirt sleeves and long pants, and to tuck pant cuffs into socks to deny ticks entrance.
Insecticide sprays such as permethrin can be used on clothing before outdoor activities. One application will last in fabric for several months. Insect repellent such as DEET or picaridin can be used on skin, and only last several hours at the most. Apply according to the directions on the package, and be careful not to get it in your eyes or mouth.
After coming in from the outdoors, it is important to look over your body and/or your childs body for ticks. This is best done in the shower or bath. Pay close attention to areas where the ticks may hide in the armpits, in the groin, in the belly button, and on the scalp and behind the ears.
Don’t Miss: Herbs That Kill Lyme Disease
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.
Lone Star Ticks: Not Guilty In Spread Of Lyme Disease
The lone star tick has at times been presumed to be a vector of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease in humans. A new review of three decades worth of research, however, concludes otherwise: While lone star ticks are guilty of transmitting bacteria that cause several human illnesses, the scientific evidence says Lyme disease is not one of them.
Not all ticks are alikeparticularly when it comes to their role in spreading Lyme disease.
The bacteria that cause Lyme disease, the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States, are transmitted to humans primarily by the blacklegged tick , which is abundant in the eastern United States. Often presumed guilty by association is the lone star tick , a southern tick species that has spread northward in recent decades. However, a new review of three decades worth of research concludes the latter should be exonerated: While lone star ticks are guilty of transmitting bacteria that cause several human illnesses, the scientific evidence says Lyme disease is not one of them.
Lone star tick bites can indeed cause a range of human illnesses, including ehrlichiosis, Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness , and red meat allergy. STARI produces rashes that mimic those seen with Lyme disease however, Lyme disease, properly termed Lyme borreliosis, is caused by a bacterium named Borrelia burgdorferi.
You May Like: Can Lyme Disease Cause Dizziness
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.
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.
Don’t Miss: How Do You Contract Lyme Disease
Do All Ticks Carry Lyme Disease
The warm weather is here! Time for fresh air fun with hiking, camping and trips to the beach. But warmer weather also brings some things that are not so welcome: ticks and the germs they spread.
If you find a tick attached to you or to your child, what do you do? Do you need to worry about Lyme disease? Not always, says Aryeh Baer, M.D., a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Joseph M. Sanzari Childrens Hospital. And even if Lyme disease is a concern, theres no need to panic, says Dr. Baer. Like so many other infections, Lyme disease is perfectly treatable.
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.
You May Like: Do I Have Ms Or Lyme Disease