How To Remove A Tick Safely
Although the risk of Lyme disease is very low in Alberta, there are other tick-borne diseases that can be transmitted by ticks.
It is important to properly remove a tick as soon as possible. Removing a tick 24 to 36 hours after a tick bite usually prevents Lyme disease from developing.
If a tick is attached to your skin, you can safely remove it.
- Using tweezers, gently grasp its head and mouth parts as close to your skin as possible to avoid leaving mouthparts in the skin or crushing the tick.
- Without squeezing the tick, slowly pull the tick straight up off the skin do not jerk or twist it.
- Do not apply matches, cigarettes, dish soap, petroleum jelly or any other substance to the tick. This will not encourage the tick to detach and may cause it to release infectious blood back into the wound.
- Once the tick has been removed, clean the bite area with soap and water and disinfect the area with an antiseptic. Wash hands with soap and water.
- Consider submitting a photograph of the tick to the Submit-a-Tick program.
- If you do not plan to submit a photograph of the tick to the Submit-a-Tick program, you can kill the tick by placing it in a freezer for 24 hours, or putting it in rubbing alcohol. Once killed, dispose of it by flushing it down the toilet, or placing it in the garbage. Avoid crushing a tick with your fingers as they may be filled with blood and other infectious material.
What Happens During Lyme Disease Testing
Lyme disease testing is usually done with your blood or cerebrospinal fluid.
For a Lyme disease blood test:
- A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
If you have symptoms of Lyme disease affecting your nervous system, such as neck stiffness and numbness in hands or feet, you may need a test of cerebrospinal fluid . CSF is a clear liquid found in your brain and spinal cord. During this test, your CSF will be collected through a procedure called a lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap. During the procedure:
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Laboratory Tests That Are Not Recommended
Some laboratories offer Lyme disease testing using assays whose accuracy and clinical usefulness have not been adequately established. Examples of unvalidated tests include:
- Capture assays for antigens in urine
- Culture, immunofluorescence staining, or cell sorting of cell wall-deficient or cystic forms of B. burgdorferi
- Lymphocyte transformation tests
- In-house criteria for interpretation of immunoblots
- Measurements of antibodies in joint fluid
- IgM or IgG tests without a previous ELISA/EIA/IFA
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How We Chose The Best At
When evaluating the companies for the best at-home Lyme disease tests, we looked at several key factors in order to provide you with the best information. For one, accuracy was extremely important, so we looked at testing centers with the best reviews and certifications. Every test mentioned in this article has been evaluated and awarded for their laboratory accuracy when dealing with their at-home tests.
Since Lyme disease is so severe and a misdiagnosis can have awful repercussions, we also considered how others reviewed the at-home tests.
Can A Tick Be Tested For Lyme Disease
Researchers examined the prevalence of ticks in the Quebec region, along with the frequency of engorged ticks carrying Borrelia burgdorferi , the causative agent of Lyme disease. Their findings suggest that tick testing may not always be an effective tool in determining the risk of infection.
Ticks can be tested for the Lyme disease bacteria and other tick-borne pathogens. But the accuracy of test results may depend on whether the tick is engorged.
A study by Gasmi et al. found that results may not be accurate when testing ticks which are engorged. The authors examined 4,596 I. scapularis ticks removed from individuals living in Quebec.
They found that 24.9% of the non-engorged blacklegged tickswere infected with Borrelia burgdorferi , the causative agent of Lyme disease.
Engorged ticks were expected to have an even higher rate of infection with the Lyme disease bacteria. But the prevalence was much lower with only 8.9% of engorged ticks testing positive for the Lyme disease agent. These findings are consistent with those from another Canadian study.
Engorged ticks were expected to have an even higher rate of infection with the Lyme disease bacteria. But the prevalence was much lower.
It is still unclear why testing of engorged ticks is not accurately revealing the higher prevalence of Bb infection. The authors suggest that it could be due to the presence of inhibitors in the blood meal or problems with the collection and transportation of engorged ticks.
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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.
How Will Pregnancy Affect Treatment For Lyme Disease
Early treatment of Lyme disease during pregnancy is important. Thats because if Lyme disease is untreated, it can affect the placenta. According to the CDC , transmission of Lyme disease from mother to fetus is possible, though rare.
For pregnant people, treatment includes a round of antibiotics. Certain treatments for Lyme disease may not be used, as they can affect the fetus. If you suspect that you have Lyme disease, talk with a healthcare professional immediately.
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What Abnormal Results Mean
A positive ELISA result is abnormal. This means antibodies were seen in your blood sample. But, this does not confirm a diagnosis of Lyme disease. A positive ELISA result must be followed up with a Western blot test. Only a positive Western blot test can confirm the diagnosis of Lyme disease.
For many people, the ELISA test remains positive, even after they have been treated for Lyme disease and no longer have symptoms.
A positive ELISA test may also occur with certain diseases not related to Lyme disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Cdc Supports The Development Of New Tests
New tests may be developed as alternatives to one or both steps of the two-step process. Before CDC will recommend new tests, they must be cleared by the Food and Drug Administration . For more details, see: Recommendations for Test Performance and Interpretation from the Second National Conference on Serologic Diagnosis of Lyme Disease.
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Lyme Disease Signs And Symptoms
Most symptoms of Lyme disease in humans usually appear between three and 30 days after a bite from an infected blacklegged tick.
You should contact your local public health unit or speak to a health care professional right away if you have been somewhere that ticks might live and experience any of the following symptoms:
- a bulls-eye rash (a red patch on the skin that is usually round or oval and more than 5 cm that spreads outwards and is getting bigger
- a bruise-like rash
- another type of unusual rash
- muscle aches and joint pains
- spasms, numbness or tingling
- facial paralysis
If not treated, Lyme disease can make you feel tired and weak and, if it gets really bad, it can even harm your heart, nerves, liver and joints. Symptoms from untreated Lyme disease can last years and include recurring arthritis and neurological problems, numbness, paralysis and, in very rare cases, death.
Management Of Individuals Without Symptoms Following A Tick Bite
Diagnostic testing is not recommended for individuals who do not develop any symptoms suggestive of Lyme disease after a tick bite.
Some commercial companies offer services to test removed ticks for the presence of the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. UKHSA does not provide such tick-testing services. The results of such tests should not be used to inform diagnosis or treatment. A positive result does not mean that the infected tick will have passed on the bacteria there are many factors that determine whether Lyme disease results from the bite of an infected tick. A negative result may not be technically valid and could give false assurance, as it does not exclude the possibility that another tick elsewhere on the body has been missed by the patient.
UKHSA runs a tick surveillance scheme and is happy to receive ticks for species identification and to monitor tick distribution.
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Can I Be Assured That The Type Of Lyme Disease Testing Carried Out In Ireland Is Accurate
Yes. Irish laboratories operate to a very high standard of quality. Laboratories in Ireland follow the testing guidelines of the US Centres for Disease Control and prevention , Infectious Disease Society of America , European Federation of Neurological Societies and British Infection Association . These guidelines provide information on which of the currently available laboratory tests have enough evidence to accurately diagnose Lyme disease.
It is important that patients who are concerned about Lyme disease seek help and receive a firm diagnosis in Ireland to ensure continued medical care. It is important to ensure that your symptoms and lab results are considered together to make sure your diagnosis is as correct as possible.
Heres What You Can Do To Keep From Getting Lyme Disease
As always, prevention is superior to cure. Right now, there is no Lyme vaccine available for people. There is a Lyme vaccine available for dogs! However, it does not protect against other tick-borne diseases, hence preventive measures against ticks are still necessary. Most dogs exposed to Lyme disease do not have symptoms. Some develop fever, lack of appetite, lameness, and joint swelling. Therefore, staying safe requires preparation and vigilance. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease are tiny, and you cant feel it when a tick attaches to you. They may even make their way into your home by attaching themselves to pets. Here are some steps to follow to remain safe.
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Lyme Disease Blood Test Results Fully Explained
The Lyme disease blood test is used to discover if someone who has the symptoms of a Borrelia burgdorferi infection actually has the bacteria in their bloodstream. Recent infections are much easier to detect and an IgM and IgG blood test will often be ordered as complimentary information gathering tools. This blood test does not always detect the presence of the disease, so patients that have persistent symptoms after having the test may be re-tested in a few weeks.
If any of these tests come back as positive, then other samples will be used to track the stage of the disease to determine if it has reached the chronic infection stage. At this point, a medical provider will order a Western blot test to confirm the presence of Lyme disease.
What Do The Test Results Mean
Because there are three tests that are typically conducted for the Lyme disease blood test, then results can vary based on the combination of test results received. When all three tests are positive, then Lyme disease is likely. These other result combinations are usually interpreted in the following ways.
Positive IgM, Negative IgG, Negative Western Blot.This usually indicates that the Lyme disease infection is in its early stages or that the blood test has produced a false positive result.
Negative IgM, Positive IgG, Positive Western Blot.This is usually interpreted as having a late-stage Lyme disease infection. It may also be an indication that someone had a previous infection that has been removed from the body.
All results negative.This is usually interpreted as there not being any infection present and that the symptoms are being caused by another issue. In some specific instances, however, it can also be seen as the antibody levels being too low to detect.
Once Lyme disease is confirmed, there will almost always be detectable levels of the bacteria which causes the disease in the IgG antibodies in their blood. This will mean that their IgG blood test results will have a standard deviation in what is considered as normal because of the presence of the disease, even if it has been effectively cured.
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What If Your Lyme Disease Test Is Positive
Its important to note that a positive result doesnt mean you have a diagnosis of Lyme disease. The tests will show that antibodies are present in your blood, but a doctor will need to order another type of test before you get an official diagnosis.
If someone gets a positive at-home test, definitely see your doctor, says Dr. Puja Uppal, a board certified family medicine physician and the chief medical officer at Think Healthy.
Investigation Of Suspected Lyme Disease
Erythema migrans is a clinical diagnosis and does not require confirmation by laboratory testing. Lyme disease is not a notifiable disease so there is no statutory requirement to notify clinically suspected cases to the local Health Protection Team.
The 2018 NICE Lyme disease guideline provides detailed advice about when a diagnosis of Lyme disease should be suspected and about which tests to use and when.
The NICE Lyme disease guideline also contains a useful summary diagram of the routine serological testing recommendations for Lyme disease.
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What Is The Most Accurate Test For Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is more common than many people think. Figures from the Center for Disease Control suggest that roughly 300,000 Lyme disease cases occur every year in the US.
The numbers are alarming, but it gets worse as finding accurate diagnostic tests can be challenging. Although the disease is treatable, it is nearly impossible to tackle it effectively if it is not diagnosed accurately and early enough.
Late detection can lead to severe health problems such as arthritis, heart blockage, and inability to concentrate, among other problems.
Given the prevalence and seeming elusiveness of the disease, some of the logical questions concerned persons would ask are: what is the most accurate test for Lyme disease? And when should I get checked for Lyme disease? This article will proffer answers to these and many other related questions. But first, a little background would be in order.
Access To Lyme Disease Testing Services
This guidance on the laboratory diagnosis of Lyme disease is intended for healthcare professionals in the UK. Patients concerned about possible Lyme infection should consult an appropriate healthcare professional, for example their GP, in the first instance.
Health professionals wishing to discuss a possible case or ascertain local arrangements for testing should contact a local Infection specialist .
NHS testing for Lyme disease is available through local service providers and the Rare and Imported Pathogens Laboratory at UK Health Security Agency Porton where ISO15189 accredited confirmatory testing is also provided. RIPL also provides a testing service for neurological Lyme disease.
RIPL provides medical and laboratory specialist services to the NHS and other healthcare providers, covering advice and diagnosis of a wide range of unusual bacterial and viral infections, including Lyme disease.
RIPL continuously updates its methods and will make further information on Lyme disease diagnostic testing available as it arises.
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How Much Does A Lyme Disease Test Cost
The cost of a Lyme disease test depends on what type of test is performed an ELISA test or a combination of ELISA and western blot tests.
Averagely, the cost for an ELISA test for Lyme disease is in the vicinity of $120 or more. If you include a confirmation western blot test, it can attract an additional $130 or more. More details on pricing can be referenced on our website.
Although an ELISA test might come back negative, it is best to combine it with a western blot test because not everyone shows the rash or bulls eye symptoms of Lyme disease.
After a successful diagnosis and treatment, it is equally important to do a follow-up test for Lyme disease years later to be sure that any similar flu-like symptoms are something else and not the same disease reoccurring.
Persistent Lyme Disease Symptoms Arent Helped By Long
Microbiologist Elli Theel, who directs the Infectious Diseases Serology Laboratory at Mayo Clinic, calls the 2015 study incredibly promising. The sensitivity they showed just in early Lyme disease patients was very high, the highest Ive actually seen, she said.
In an upcoming publication, the researchers also showed that metabolomics can differentiate Lyme from a similar tick-borne disease called southern tick-associated rash illness . The disease causes similar symptoms as Lyme, including a bullseye rash, and occurs in overlapping geographic regions. Currently there is no laboratory test to diagnose STARI, and little is known about how the disease progresses and how to treat it, something Molins hopes will change with better testing.
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