Q Where Are Ticks Found
A. The blacklegged tick — responsible for Lyme disease, the Powassan virus, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis — is found in every state across the eastern U.S. and into Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas. The geographic range of other ticks, including the Lone Star, American dog, brown dog, and Rocky Mountain wood tick, has also expanded throughout North America. They cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and other infections.
Who’s At Risk Of Lyme Disease
The risk of getting Lyme disease is higher:
- for people who spend time in woodland or moorland areas
- from March to October because more people take part in outdoor activities
It’s thought only a small proportion of ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Being bitten doesn’t mean you’ll definitely be infected. However, it’s important to be aware of the risk and speak to a GP if you start to feel unwell.
Stage : Later Signs And Symptoms
If you do have Lyme disease and it goes untreated untreated, new signs and symptoms of Lyme infection might appear in the following weeks to months. These include:
- Erythema migrans. The rash may appear on other areas of your body.
- Joint pain. Bouts of severe joint pain and swelling are especially likely to affect your knees, but the pain can shift from one joint to another.
- Neurological problems. Weeks, months or even years after infection, you might develop inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain , temporary paralysis of one side of your face , numbness or weakness in your limbs, and impaired muscle movement.
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What Types Of Ticks Transmit Lyme Disease
In the northeast, Mid-Atlantic and north-central states, deer ticks or black-legged ticks are the only ticks known to transmit Lyme disease. On the Pacific coast, the ticks that transmit Lyme disease are the western black-legged tick . Dog ticks and other kinds of ticks are not known to cause Lyme disease.
The most visible sign of Lyme disease is the characteristic rash called erythema migrans or ‘bull’s eye.’ This rash usually develops within one month of the tick bite. It typically occurs at the site of the bite, starting as a red area and then expanding in size over days and weeks.
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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How To Keep Ticks Out Of Your Yard
Ticks love tall grass and cool, damp areas. On the “Consumer 101” TV show, Consumer Reports expert Catherine Roberts explains how to make your yard less inviting to these pests.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article stated that a tick must be attached for about 24 hours before Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be transmitted. We’ve updated the story to reflect that the CDC advises consumers that RMSF could be transmitted by an attached tick in as little as 2 hours.
As a science journalist, my goal is to empower consumers to make informed decisions about health products, practices, and treatments. I aim to investigate what works, what doesn’t, and what may be causing actual harm when it comes to people’s health. As a civilian, my passions include science fiction, running, Queens, and my cat. Follow me on Twitter: @catharob.
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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Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented
People aren’t able to become immune to Lyme disease. So even if you’ve had Lyme disease, you can get it again. No vaccine is available currently to prevent the disease.
The FDA approved a Lyme vaccine called LYMErix in 1998. The vaccine was not 100% effective, however. The FDA still recommended preventing the disease in other ways. In 2002, the company that made LYMErix said it would no longer offer the vaccine.
To help prevent Lyme disease, follow these guidelines.
Blood Tests For Antibodies
Blood tests for detecting antibodies to B. burgdorferi are most reliable several weeks after infection has occurred and are rarely of value during the first 7 to 10 days of illness. During these initial days of infection, these tests can give false negative results .
Most authorities, including the CDC, recommend a 2-step testing process for Lyme disease:
- EIA Test. The first test used is an enzyme immunoassay . The EIA measures IgM and IgG antibodies to the B. burgdorferi spirochete. Positive results from this test still require confirmation with a Western blot test, since the EIA test is often positive even when there has been no infection. Negative results do not require further testing.
- Western Blot or second EIA test. If the EIA test is positive or uncertain, it is followed by the Western blot test. This test is more accurate and is very helpful in confirming the diagnosis but is more expensive and takes longer to complete. The Western blot creates a visual graph showing bands of IgM or IgG antibodies that laboratories use to interpret the immune response. More recently, recommendations have changed to allow for a second EIA in place of the confirmatory Western blot .
- V1sE . This newer FDA-approved test detects a specific component within the EIA IgG antibodies and is being increasingly used instead of the Western Blot to confirm a positive EIA test. Since it is less expensive and more rapidly completed, it may ultimately replace the Western Blot test.
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What Are The First Signs Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
Many animals can have Lyme disease and show no signs. In dogs, the most common signs include fever, loss of appetite, painful or swollen joints, lameness that comes and goes, swollen lymph nodes, and lethargy. If Lyme disease is left untreated it can lead to damage in the kidneys, nervous system, and heart.
How Do You Get Lyme Disease
Lyme disease can only be contracted by the bite of an infected deer tick. The bacteria enter your skin via the bite and eventually enter your bloodstream. In most situations, a deer tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours in order to transmit Lyme disease. Deer ticks are small and often hidden under leaves or other debris where they are difficult to see with the unaided eye. They latch on to animals such as humans when searching for a meal. Once attached, they will feed on our blood for several hours before falling off into empty spaces where they will die.
People usually contract Lyme disease in the spring when deer ticks are active and looking for food – i.e., when people are out enjoying themselves outdoors. Ticks live in grassy areas where they feast on mice, birds, and other small animals. If you’re going outside for a walk or playing in a yard where there are many plants growing close together, wear long pants and a shirt that covers as much skin as possible. Also, check yourself and your children for deer ticks every night after being out in the wild.
If you find a deer tick on yourself or your child, follow these instructions: Remove the tick using fine-tipped tweezers or your fingers. Be careful not to squeeze the body of the tick too hard, which could cause it to inject more bacteria into your system.
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What Do Testing Kits Typically Include
Depending on the method of collection, testing kits may include:
- a device to collect the blood, urine, or saliva sample
- a container to ship the sample back to the lab
- a shipping label
Some kits come with a bandage, wipes, and a biohazard bag. Kits may contain extras such as Styrofoam holders, labels, or tubes with varying solutions inside.
Remove Ticks Once Found Immediately By Grasping Them With A Tweezer And Pulling Them Off Of The Skin
The quickest way to remove a tick is with tweezers. Grasp the tick between the head of the tick and the skin and to pull firmly but gently away. Sometimes, this will leave behind small black mouthparts of the tick in the skin. Dont worry, these small mouthparts do not transmit Lyme disease and should be left alone. Never try to dig out the mouthparts of the tick with any type of needle or blade, just leave them in place and they will work their way out on their own.
The most important point is to remove the tick quickly. Removing a tick in the first 24 hours dramatically reduces the risk of Lyme disease, and is your best protection in preventing yourself from getting Lyme disease.
Using these five tips to prevent Lyme disease can help you enjoy the out of doors safely, help you to avoid tick bites, and help you to avoid getting Lyme disease.
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What Happens In Partially Fed Ticks
The tick attaches to a host, feeds and the Lyme bacteria multiply rapidly in the ticks mid-gut. Normally, the tick eliminates all of the bacteria, leaving behind only those spirochetes that survive in the mid-gut before they molt into an adult.
But, in a partially fed tick, spirochetes multiply in the mid-gut and then move to the salivary glands.
If the tick bites again, the spirochetes residing in the salivary glands can be transmitted more quickly. Partially fed nymphs are able to reattach to another host and Lyme disease spirochetes may be transmitted by partially fed nymphs more rapidly than by nymphs that have not already fed.
Tick Attachment Times And Other Lyme Disease Myths
Dr. Laurie Radovsky is a family physician in St. Paul, MN. Board-certified in family medicine, she is a member of the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine and the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society.
MYTH: You can only have Lyme disease if you live in a few areas of the country.
TRUTH: Lyme disease has been reported in all states of the union. Some of this is due to residents acquiring the infection elsewhere, but the range of infected ticks is much larger than previously believed, and is growing. Ticks associated with carrying Lyme disease have now been identified in almost 50% of counties in the United States. Furthermore, migrating songbirds carry infected ticks, spreading them across their migration route.
MYTH: You can only get Lyme disease during the warmest months.
TRUTH: It is true that the greatest risk of getting bitten by a tick is between May, when nymphs hatch, and July. However, any time when the temperature is above freezing, ticks can be active. Ticks are active well into the fall, so deer hunters are at risk.
MYTH: You can only get Lyme disease if you go into the woods.
TRUTH: As human environments encroach on the wild, the interface between suburbs and the habitat of deer and other animals increases. As noted above, songbirds such as robins carry infected ticks and can deposit them in urban yards as they search for worms in lawns. Pets such as dogs and cats can also bring infected ticks into the home.
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Is It Bad To Dry Wash Wool Sweaters
Machine washing can be damaging for some heavy clothing such as wool sweaters and jackets. The first thing to think about if you want to machine wash dry clean only clothing is the type of fabric the clothing is made out of. For instance, wool is notorious for shrinking and rayon can become wrinkled beyond repair.
How A Pathogen May Be Helping Ticks
Couret and her research partners hypothesize that the Lyme bacteria and blacklegged ticks maintain a mutually beneficial relationship. The idea is that if ticks with the pathogen are stronger or more resilient, then the chances of the bacteria spreading go up.
In pilot studies, Couret has seen changes in ticks after they pick up the bacteria, ranging from the behavioral to the metabolic.
So how could the bacteria be helping ticks? Its still early in the study, which started in September, and hard to say, but one promising avenue may lie in the ticks tolerance of drought conditions.
Ticks are generally sensitive to heat, spending time in the leaf litter when its hot and dry. But one characteristic of ticks in the Northeast, versus those in the South, appears to be a tendency to climb higher in the vegetation, up on to plant stalks or branches even as the temperature rises. From these elevated vantage points, its easier for them to latch on to a passing deer or person.
If somehow the Lyme bacteria is influencing this behavior, it may offer an advantage to the ticks in finding their meals.
Of course, there are other organisms that make up the ticks microbiome, so isolating the specific interactions with the Lyme bacteria will be difficult. But the researchers are taking a comprehensive view, hoping to look at the many ecological relationships that affect the tick life cycle and tease out some answers.
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Tick Check And Tick Removal
In most cases, ticks begin transmitting the Lyme disease spirochete only after 36 to 48 hours of attachment, however the precise minimum time is not known. Removing a tick within 24 to 48 hours can reduce your chance of contracting Lyme disease. The following tips are important for self-inspection:
- Nymph ticks are very small and may resemble poppy seeds, freckles, or scabs. Adult ticks may resemble raisins.
- People spending time in tick-infested locations should inspect themselves several times a day, including at bedtime.
- Check non-exposed areas, such as the back of the knee, as well as exposed areas. Someone else should check the scalp, back of the neck, and other difficult to reach areas. Parents should check children.
- After coming from outdoors, take a shower. It may help wash off unattached ticks, gives you an opportunity for a complete tick check, and will remove any remaining DEET.
- Check clothing as well as skin. A tick on clothes can be hidden in folds or creases.
If an attached tick is discovered, there is no reason to panic. A very small percentage of ticks are actually infected , and not everyone who is bitten by a tick will get Lyme disease.
Do not put a hot match to the tick or try to smother it with petroleum jelly, nail polish, or other substances. This only prolongs exposure time and may cause the tick to eject the Lyme spirochete into the body.
The following is the safest and most effective way to remove an attached tick:
What Are The Clinical Signs Of Lyme Disease
Some people with Lyme disease develop a characteristic bulls-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.
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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.