Is There A Blood Test For Lyme Disease
Yes, but theres also a fairly high rate of false negative results from this test. So we do not use it as an exclusive diagnostic tool. The blood test looks for specific antibodies to the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium, but those antibodies can take up to two weeks to develop in a person who has been bitten by an infected tick.
Depending on the timing of the test, a negative reading may result even though the person is already infected and exhibiting the EM rash and other symptoms. If a person has a known tick bite and is exhibiting classic Lyme Disease symptoms, we will often proceed with treatment, even if the blood test comes back negative.
Can I Prevent Lyme Disease
Not all cases of Lyme disease can be prevented. But you can protect yourself from tick bites. If you go into an area where ticks live, be sure to:
- Stay in the middle of the trail instead of going through high grass or the woods.
- Wear closed shoes or boots, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants. Tuck pant legs into shoes or boots to prevent ticks from crawling up legs.
- Use an insect repellent.
- Consider treating your clothing and gear with permethrin to repel ticks.
- Wear light-colored clothing to help you see ticks more easily.
- Shower and wash hair after being outside to remove ticks before they attach.
- Remove any ticks you find right away.
Tick Detection And Control
Sweeping or dragging your yard using a white cloth can help determine if you have a high tick population. Attach the cloth to a dowel and sweep or drag it over the vegetation, then inspect the cloth for ticks. Removing firewood and clearing leaves, brush, and tall grass from around houses and at the edges of gardens may help reduce the blacklegged tick population.
Applying acaricides to gardens, lawns, and the edge of woodlands near homes may be advisable in some situations. Currently, no commercial essential oil products have demonstrated long-term effectiveness against ticks. In addition, several of the formulations may be toxic to pollinators and soil organisms.
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Protect Yourself Your Children And Your Pets By Wearing Protective Clothing Treated With Tick Pesticides And Treating Your Skin With Insect Repellent
- Wear protective Clothing.
- Long sleeves, long pants tucked into socks, & shoes.
- Avoid going barefoot or wearing open-toe sandals/shoes.
- Use insect repellent such as DEET on the body or Permethrin on clothes.
- Review safety information assess the risks/benefits of these products.
- Many doctors consider them unsafe for use on children. Use discretion and consult your doctor before using. Do not use on children under 3.
Lightweight long pants and long shirts are great for hiking as they prevent ticks from getting on your skin. Permethrin is a commonly-used tick pesticide thats applied to clothing, not to your skin. Permethrin is a unique chemical because it does not need to be reapplied frequently. It stays bound to the material of your clothing and needs only to be reapplied every few months.
In addition to treating your clothing with permethrin, you can also use an insect repellant on your skin to repel ticks. Deet is a commonly-used tick repellent that can be applied to the skin safely in adults and children. It must be applied every two to three hours in warm weather. Apply by spraying on to the exposed surface of the skin and allowing it to dry in place.
When youre done enjoying the out of doors, its a good protective habit to shower immediately. This may wash off ticks that have gotten onto you. Wash and dry your clothes immediately.
Blacklegged Tick Life Cycle
Knowing about the tick’s life cycle is important for understanding the risk of acquiring Lyme disease and finding ways to prevent it. Adult female ticks lay eggs in the spring. The eggs hatch into larvae during the summer. Ticks are free of pathogens when they hatch. Larvae feed on mice, other small mammals, and birds in the summer and early fall if they feed on an infected host, they may become infected. They then are inactive until the following spring, when they molt into nymphs.
Nymphs feed on small rodents, small mammals, and birds in late spring and summer. They seek small to medium-sized hosts, including domestic animals and people. If these nymphs fed on infected animals as larvae, they may then transmit pathogens to their second host. Nymphs are most likely to be found during the early summer months . Nymphs molt into adults in the fall and actively seek larger mammals. Adults may be found nearly year-round, particularly in the fall and early spring. Black-legged ticks are commonly called “deer ticks” because they are often found in high densities on white-tailed deer even though they feed on many large animals.
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How To Prevent Lyme Disease After A Tick Bite
If you spend a considerable amount of time outdoors, youre likely familiar with the steps you should take to avoid being bitten by a tick. Treating clothing and equipment with permethrin, tucking your pant legs into your socks, and applying a chemical repellent with DEET or picaridin can all help prevent tick bites.
But what if youve already been bitten by a tick? Is there anything you can do to reduce your risk of contracting Lyme disease? PhysicianOne Urgent Care has compiled the following tips:
Many people assume that theyll need to undergo blood testing immediately after being bitten by a tick to determine whether they contracted Lyme disease. However, blood tests will not begin to come back positive for Lyme disease until approximately two to six weeks after the time of infection.
A New Vaccine Candidate
However, in July 2017, the Food and Drug Administration granted fast-track designation to a new Lyme disease vaccine candidate called VLA15. Fast-track designation means that the review of the vaccine will be expedited, with an eye toward earlier availability to the general public. This vaccine was fast-tracked to fight the rapidly growing problem of Lyme disease, which can result in considerable disability and long-term suffering in some.
VLA15 is a multivalent vaccine, which means that it confers protection against more than one strain of Borrelia, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. More specifically, VLA15 targets outer surface protein A , which is the most dominant protein in Borrelia transferred by ticks. Because it targets six different types of OspArepresenting six different strains of Borreliathis vaccine has the potential to protect against Lyme disease spread in the United States, Europe, and worldwide.
In light of the vaccines fast-track designation, Valneva, the company that manufactures VLA15, has stepped up phase II clinical trials. According to a July 2017 press release, phase I clinical trials involve 180 participants from three sites, two in the United States and one in Belgium.
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How To Spot And Remove Ticks
Once youve come in from outside, one of the best ways to check yourself for ticks is to take a shower and bath.
Other than that, do your best to check your clothes, especially the folds of your clothes, knowing that ticks can be very small and hard to spot. Running your hands through your hair is also a good idea.
Key Points To Remember
- Most Lyme disease tests are designed to detect antibodies made by the body in response to infection.
- Antibodies can take several weeks to develop, so patients may test negative if infected only recently.
- Antibodies normally persist in the blood for months or even years after the infection is gone therefore, the test cannot be used to determine cure.
- Infection with other diseases, including some tickborne diseases, or some viral, bacterial, or autoimmune diseases, can result in false positive test results.
- Some tests give results for two types of antibody, IgM and IgG. Positive IgM results should be disregarded if the patient has been ill for more than 30 days.
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Protecting Yourself From Tick Bites
The chances of being bitten by a deer tick can be reduced with a few precautions:
- Avoid tick-infested areas, especially in May, June, and July.
- Wear light-colored clothing so that ticks can be spotted more easily.
- Wear long-sleeved shirt and pants.
- Spray insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on clothes and exposed skin .
- After being outdoors, remove clothing and wash and dry it at a high temperature.
- Inspect yourself carefully and, if possible, shower within an hour of coming inside.
Lyme Disease Test And Treatment
If you think you may have Lyme disease, contact your physician right away.
Your doctor may do a test for Lyme disease. The FDA regulates diagnostic tests to ensure that they are safe and effective. Its important to know that blood tests that check for antibodies to the bacterium that causes Lyme disease are not useful if done soon after a tick bite. It typically takes 2 to 5 weeks after a tick bite for initial antibodies to develop.
For this reason, your doctor may recommend treatment with antibiotics before the diagnostic tests are complete. According to the CDC, patients treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely.
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Who Gets Lyme Disease
Anyone bitten by an infected deer tick can get Lyme disease. Most U.S. cases of Lyme disease happen in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. But Lyme disease is found in other parts of the world, too.
Besides living in one of these areas, other things that might increase your risk include:
- spending a lot of time outdoors in tall grass, brush, shrubs, or wooded areas
- having pets that may carry ticks indoors
- activities such as yardwork, hiking, camping, fishing, or hunting in tick-infested areas
Later Signs And Symptoms
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes on other areas of the body
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints.
- Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- Heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat
- Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
- Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
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Remove Attached Ticks Quickly And Correctly
Remove an attached tick with fine-tipped tweezers as soon as you notice it. If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely small however, other diseases may be transmitted more quickly.
Over the next few weeks, watch for signs or symptoms of Lyme disease such as rash or fever. See a healthcare provider if you have signs or symptoms. For more information, see tick removal.
Preventing Tick Bites On Pets
Like humans, pets can also get Lyme disease from a tick bite. And even if a pet is vaccinated against Lyme disease or wears a tick collar, it can still bring ticks inside the house that pose a risk to you. Preventing tick bites on your pets is an important way to protect them, you, and your family.
“Protect yourself from tick bites. Check for tick bites. Know what to do if you find a tick.”
Lyme Disease Patient Experience Survey Respondent
Male, 73, Croydon, PA
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How Is Lyme Disease Treated
Antibiotics, usually doxycycline or amoxicillin, are effective treatments for Lyme disease. How long your treatment lasts depends on the stage of infection. In general, its true that the sooner youre treated, the quicker and more complete the recovery.
Pregnant people should receive treatment for Lyme disease as well. There is, however, no evidence that a fetus can get the infection from its parent. Theres also no strong evidence that miscarriages are more likely after Lyme disease.
What should I do if a tick bites me?
If a tick bites you, the best way to remove it is by taking the following steps:
- Tug gently but firmly with blunt tweezers near the “head” of the tick at the level of your skin until it releases its hold on your skin.
- Avoid crushing the tick’s body or handling the tick with bare fingers because you could expose yourself to the bacteria in the tick.
- Wash the bite area thoroughly with soap and water.
- Don’t use kerosene, petroleum jelly or hot cigarette butts to remove the tick.
- Don’t squeeze the tick’s body with your fingers or tweezers.
Tick Bite Treatment Near You
If youre in Connecticut, Massachusetts, or New York and think you may have been bitten by a tick, you can turn to PhysicianOne Urgent Care. Our network of immediate care centers offers tick removal, bite and rash assessment, and treatment services, all on a walk-in basis. Please feel free to call us at 860-650-3848 if you have any questions.
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“Throughout the visit I felt like the staff really cared. The Doctor took his time talking with me about my symptoms, and I felt like he listened to all my concerns and took that into consideration when recommending the right treatment. Thank you!”
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What Causes Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria. In the United States, this is usually a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. It spreads to humans through the bite of an infected tick. The ticks that spread it are blacklegged ticks . They are usually found in the:
- Pacific coast, especially northern California
These ticks can attach to any part your body. But they are often found in hard-to-see areas such as your groin, armpits, and scalp. Usually the tick must be attached to you for 36 to 48 hours or more to spread the bacterium to you.
How To Safely Remove Attached Ticks
Use a pair of fine-tipped forceps or tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible. Pull straight back with slow and steady force. Avoid crushing the tick’s body. Save the tick in a plastic bag or container in the freezer. If suspicious symptoms develop, the tick can be tested for pathogens.
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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
- park or wildlife management
The majority of tick bites happen in the summer when ticks are the most active and people spend more time outside. However, its also possible to get Lyme disease from tick bites in early fall, and even in late winter if the weather is unseasonably warm.
Lyme disease prevention mostly involves decreasing your risk of experiencing a tick bite.
Take the following steps to prevent tick bites:
Contact a doctor if and whenever a tick bites you or your loved ones.
Lyme Disease: Reduce Your Exposure And Enjoy Your Summer
During the long winter months it seems like we might never see summer again. Once it arrives, however, warm weather brings renewed concerns about tick bites and Lyme Disease.
The disease is concentrated heavily in the northeast and upper Midwest. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 674 cases in the state of Vermont. And according to the VT Department of Health, the highest incidence of Lyme Disease occurs in Rutland, Windham, and Windsor counties.
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How To Remove Ticks
Tick bites aren’t always painful. You may not notice a tick unless you see it on your skin. Check your skin and your children’s or pets’ skin after being outdoors.
To remove a tick:
The risk of getting ill is low. You don’t need to do anything else unless you become unwell.
Protect Yourself From Tick Bites
Know where to expect ticks. Blacklegged ticks live in moist and humid environments, particularly in and near wooded or grassy areas. You may get a tick on you during outdoor activities around your home or when walking through leaves and bushes. To avoid ticks, walk in the center of trails and avoid walking through tall bushes or other vegetation.
Repel ticks on skin and clothing. Use Environmental Protection Agency -registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone. EPAs helpful search tool can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth. Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective longer.
- The Environmental Protection Agency has an online tool to help you select the repellentexternal icon that is best for you and your family.
- For detailed information about preventing ticks on pets and in your yard, see Lyme Disease Prevention and Control.
- For detailed information for outdoor workers, see NIOSH Safety and Health Topic: Tick-borne Diseases.
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