Who’s At Risk And Where Are Ticks Found
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
Ticks are found throughout the UK and in other parts of Europe and North America. There are a high number of ticks in the Scottish Highlands.
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.
Forbidding Forecast For Lyme Disease In The Northeast
Why was Berndt’s tick so risky? First, it was a blacklegged tick, a known carrier of Lyme disease bacteria. Second, the tick was in southeast Pennsylvania, where relatively large proportions of ticks are infected . Finally, the tick had been feeding for three days, much longer than the transmission threshold of 24 hours.
As a precaution, Berndt went to a doctor and started an antibiotic regimen. He also paid a lab to have the tick tested.
Fortunately, the test came back negative for Lyme disease.
“I think the $50 was worth it, just to be able to say ‘No, it definitely wasn’t carrying it,’ ” Berndt says.
Even though Berndt’s tick tested negative, Mather says it’s still a good idea for people like Berndt to be on the lookout for Lyme symptoms. That’s because they could have gotten other tick bites that went unnoticed.
But Mather stresses that not everyone who finds a tick on their body needs to worry. Many cases have a low probability of causing disease.
“There was one woman, she was nursing a 12-week-old baby and said, ‘I just scraped this off my back and I’m scared,’ ” Mather says. “In her case, it was a barely attached American dog tick. We could tell her, ‘You’re probably fine.’ “
Correction July 24, 2018
An earlier version of this story said incorrectly that Thomas Mather is a professor at Rhode Island University. He is on the faculty of the University of Rhode Island.
How Can I Prevent Bites From Ticks And Lyme Disease
You can keep yourself, your loved ones, and your pets from encountering Lyme ticks with a few easy, Be Tick AWARE prevention steps:
- Avoid high-traffic areas known to host ticks that carry Lyme disease like tall grasses and leaf piles
- Wear clothing to protect from ticks and Lyme disease, like long sleeves, pants, and socks
- Apply EPA-approved tick repellent properly
- Remove clothing to protect from ticks and Lyme disease, like long sleeves, pants, and socks
- Examine yourself for ticks daily as the risk of Lyme disease is always there
Learn more about preventing encounters with ticks that carry Lyme disease on our prevention page.
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What Can A Workplace Or Home Do To Reduce The Presence Of Ticks
Keep the lawn and yard well maintained to prevent ticks from living near the home or workplace.
- Keep the grass mowed. Trim trees and shrubs.
- Remove leaf litter, brush, and weeds at the edge of the lawn, and around stonewalls and woodpiles.
- Clean up and seal stonewalls and small openings around the home to help discourage rodents.
- Keep stacked firewood piles and bird feeders away from buildings.
- Keep any pets, particularly dogs, out of the woods and talk to your veterinarian about tick repellents for your pets.
- Move children’s swing sets and sandboxes away from the woodland’s edge and use a woodchip or mulch foundation.
- Consider using hard landscape items such as woodchips, mulch, stones, gravel, tile, or metals.
- Create a border or barrier between the lawn, woods, or stonewalls to discourage deer and rodent activity.
- Widen woodland trails.
What Does Lyme Disease Do To You
Though the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease vary, there is one common thread among them: these symptoms usually come in stages. They usually start with either the identification and removal of a tick or from a small, red bump, similar to a mosquito bite. Note that, according to the Mayo Clinic, these tick bite bumps dont always indicate the presence of Lyme disease, just of a previous tick.
About a month later, youre likely to experience other symptoms such as an expanding red area coming out from the bite that often clears in the center, forming a bulls eye pattern. This skin rash can expand to 12 inches in diameter. You can also develop a fever or chills, body aches, headaches, or neck stiffness and swollen lymph nodes.
You should see a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. If Lyme disease goes untreated, you could develop debilitating joint pain, swelling, and even neurological problems, such as Bells palsy or impaired muscle movement. Remember: the earlier you begin treatment, the less severe your bought with this tough disease will likely be.
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Do All Ticks Carry Lyme Disease
It is often confused that ticks are the originators of Lyme disease when in fact they are just carriers of the disease. The disease itself is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, and following the bite of an infected tick, this bacterium disseminates into the skin surrounding the bite. If left unnoticed or untreated, the bacterium can infect the blood stream and infect the body further from there. Fortunately, not all species of ticks are vectors for Lyme disease.
When To See Your Gp
You should see your GP if you develop any of the symptoms above, after being bitten by a tick .
Make sure you let your GP know if you’ve spent time in woodland or heath areas. Diagnosing Lyme disease is often difficult as many of the symptoms are similar to other conditions.
A spreading rash some days after a known tick bite should be treated with antibiotics. This is without waiting for the results of a blood test.
Blood tests can be carried out to confirm the diagnosis after a few weeks. These can be negative in the early stages of the infection. You may need to be re-tested if Lyme disease is still suspected after a negative test result.
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Can Lyme Disease Be Treated
In most cases, yes. Antibiotics can effectively treat Lyme disease, especially when treatment begins early. Cases that reach the later stages of the disease, however, can be difficult to treat and some symptoms can persist.
PHAC reports that removing the tick within 24-36 hours usually prevents infection.
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.
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How Do I Know If I Have A Tick Bite
Many people who develop the disease do not remember seeing ticks or being bitten. Tick bites commonly occur from May to September in North America, although blacklegged ticks can be active most of the year. Ticks sometimes move around on the body but they usually attach themselves to the skin and stay in one place. Before feeding, ticks look like small, brown scabs or freckles. After feeding, ticks may swell considerably, and could be as big as a raisin or a small grape.
Follow the link for more information about blacklegged ticks from the Government of Canada.
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.
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Stage : Early Disseminated Lyme Disease
Early disseminated Lyme disease occurs several weeks to months after the tick bite.
Youll have a general feeling of being unwell, and a rash may appear in areas other than the tick bite.
This stage of the disease is primarily characterized by evidence of systemic infection, which means infection has spread throughout the body, including to other organs.
Symptoms can include:
- disturbances in heart rhythm, which can be caused by Lyme carditis
- neurologic conditions, such as numbness, tingling, facial and cranial nerve palsies, and meningitis
The symptoms of stages 1 and 2 can overlap.
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
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Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented Or Avoided
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid being bitten by ticks. When you are outdoors, follow these guidelines:
- Avoid areas that are wooded, brushy, or have tall grass.
- Walk in the center of trails.
- Use tick repellents according to their instructions to help prevent bites. Apply an insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin to exposed skin or clothes. Permethrin treated clothing repels and kills ticks when they come in contact with it and is now registered for use in Canada for those age 16 and older.
- Wear light-colored clothing, long-sleeved shirts and pants, and closed toed shoes. Tuck shirts into pants and tuck pant legs into your socks.
After you get home, check everything and everyone for ticks.
- When possible, take a bath or shower within two hours of being outdoors. This makes it easier to find ticks and washes away unattached ones
- Check clothing and inspect skin including in and around ears, arm pits, inside belly button, groin, around the waist, and especially in hair and scalp area
- Check any gear you used, including coats, backpacks, or tents.
- Put clean and dry outdoor clothes in a dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes to kill any remaining ticks
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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What Do I Do If I Find A Tick On My Skin
Dont panic. Using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick body as close to your skin as possible. Pull in a steady upward motion until the tick comes out. Be careful not to squeeze or twist the tick body. If any tick parts remain in the skin, you can leave them alone or carefully remove them the same way you would a splinter. Do not use heat , petroleum jelly, or other methods to try to make the tick back out on its own. These methods are not effective.
Wash the area where the tick was attached thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitizer. Watch the bite area and the rest of your skin over the few weeks and note any changes. Make a note of the date and where on the body the bite occurred. This will be important if you, or a loved one, begin to feel unwell.
How Can You Prevent Lyme Disease
The best way to protect against Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. Check the detailed risk areas map to find out where infected ticks are most likely to be found. Remember, as tick populations spread, the risk of acquiring Lyme disease will occur outside these areas in the future. Ticks can be dispersed out of these areas by migratory birds so there is a low risk of being bitten by a tick outside of the known risk areas.
It is recommended that Canadians travelling to highly Lyme endemic areas of the US and Europe, apply permethrin treatments to their clothing or use clothing pre-treated with permethrin. These products can be obtained in some travel clinics or from outdoors retailers when in the US.
Ticks can be infected with more than one type of bacteria that can cause human illness. Guarding against tick bites will protect you from more than just Lyme disease.
Here are some ways to protect yourself if you venture into wooded or forested areas within risk areas for Lyme disease:
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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.
Stage : Late Disseminated Lyme Disease
Late disseminated Lyme disease occurs when the infection hasnt been treated in stages 1 and 2. Stage 3 can occur months or years after the tick bite.
This stage is characterized by:
- arthritis of one or more large joints
- brain disorders, such as encephalopathy, which can cause short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating, mental fogginess, problems with following conversations and sleep disturbance
- numbness in the arms, legs, hands, or feet
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How To Avoid Tick Bites
To reduce the chance of being bitten:
- cover your skin while walking outdoors and tuck your trousers into your socks
- use insect repellent on your clothes and skin products containing DEET are best
- stay on clear paths whenever possible
- wear light-coloured clothing so ticks are easier to see and brush off
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Tick bites are usually painless and most people do not know they have been bitten. Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease vary greatly from person to person, and may appear anywhere between 3 to 30 days after a person has been bitten.
Symptoms often include:
- Swollen lymph nodes.
- Skin rash.
One sign of infection can be an expanding rash, sometimes referred to as a “bull’s eye” rash because it may have rings spreading from the bite site ). It is important to note that rashes without the bull’s eye may occur, and that rashes do not appear in every case of Lyme disease infection.
The PHAC states that if left untreated, more severe symptoms may occur and can last from months to years. Severe symptoms may include:
- Severe headaches
- Additional EM skin rashes..
- Neurological disorders
- Nervous system disorders, including facial paralysis or Bell’s palsy .
- Intermittent muscle, joint, tendon, and bone aches
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and less commonly in other joints such as the ankle, elbow, and wrists.
If untreated, a condition called late disseminated Lyme disease may occur. PHAC reports symptoms include recurring arthritis , nervous system and/or neurological problems. Symptoms can also include numbness and/or paralysis . Deaths from Lyme disease are rare but may occur.
PHAC provides more information on Lyme Disease.
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