What Do The Results Mean
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a two-test process of your sample:
- If your first test result is negative for Lyme disease, you don’t need any more testing.
- If your first result is positive for Lyme disease, your blood will get a second test.
- If both results are positive for Lyme disease and you also have symptoms of infection, you probably have Lyme disease.
Positive results don’t always mean a Lyme disease diagnosis. In some cases, you can have a positive result but not have an infection. Positive results may also mean you have an autoimmune disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
If your lumbar puncture results are positive, it may mean you have Lyme disease, but you might need more tests to confirm a diagnosis.
If your health care provider thinks you have Lyme disease, he or she will prescribe antibiotic treatment. Most people who are treated with antibiotics in the early stage of disease will make a complete recovery.
Seek Medical Care Early To Prevent Lyme Disease From Progressing
Its easy to get bit by a tick and not know it. Most people dont feel a tick on their skin or the bite. Checking your skin for ticks after spending time outdoors can help you find a tick and remove it.
Removing a tick can prevent Lyme disease. A tick must be attached to your skin for at least 36 hours to infect you with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
Its not always possible to find a tick, so its important to pay close attention to your skin. If you notice any signs of Lyme disease or develop a rash, get medical care right away. Ticks can cause other serious diseases, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Related AAD resources
ImagesImage 1: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Image Library, Last accessed May 11, 2017.
Images 2, 3, and 7: Used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011 64:619-36.
Image 6: Used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
ReferencesBhate C and Schwartz RA.
Lyme disease: Part I. Advances and perspectives. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011 64:619-36.
Lyme disease: Part II. Management and prevention. J Am Acad Dermatol 2011 64:639-53.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
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Recognizing The Rash After A Tick Bite
It is important to understand that a rash is not always present or easily recognizable in early Lyme disease, and this can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment.
Please refer to our poster of varied Lyme disease rash manifestations as a helpful identification tool.
When present, it is wise to take a picture of the rash with the date for your medical record, since a rash compatible with erythema migrans rash should prompt urgent evaluation and treatment. Lyme disease is most successfully treated in this first stage.
If you have a suspicious rash or your symptoms persist, please seek medical care immediately.
The erythema migrans Lyme disease rash is:
- Round or oval, enlarges in size over days/weeks, & will not fade in a few days
- Usually greater than 2 inches in diameter, often 6-8
- Usually uniformly red
- Sometimes but not often, a bulls eye rash with a red ring surrounding a clear area and red center
- Minimally tender, minimally itchy , and sometimes warm
- Often confused with spider bites
The incubation period from tick bite to rash is usually 3-10 days but can be 30 days.
The Lyme rash can spread through the bloodstream to other areas of the skin.
Sometimes blisters develop in the center of the rash.
Tick bite reactions are often confused with the rash of Lyme disease.
Tick bite reactions:
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The Chance Of Getting Lyme Disease
Not all ticks in England carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
But it’s still important to be aware of ticks and to safely remove them as soon as possible, just in case.
Ticks that may cause Lyme disease are found all over the UK, but high-risk places include grassy and wooded areas in southern and northern England and the Scottish Highlands.
Ticks are tiny spider-like creatures that live in woods, areas with long grass, and sometimes in urban parks and gardens. They’re found all over the UK.
Ticks do not jump or fly. They attach to the skin of animals or humans that brush past them.
Once a tick bites into the skin, it feeds on blood for a few days before dropping off.
The Following Are The Most Common Misunderstood Facts About Tick Bites:
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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.
Use Pointy Tweezers For Nymph Or Larval Ticks
Nymph ticks are incredibly tiny. They are almost impossible to grasp at the head with normal tweezers or tick tools. A pair of pointy tweezers are the only real way to remove these tiny ticks. I use these tweezers.
Larval and nymph ticks are so small that you cannot remove them with most tick tools. Youll need finely-pointed tweezers.
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Is There A Time Of The Year When Lyme Disease Is Most Likely
Lyme is most common during late spring and summer when the nymphal ticks are more predominant, these ticks are so tiny that they are easier to miss than the adult-sized ticks . Adult ticks can still transmit Lyme disease but they are easier to spot so they are usually noticed and removed more quickly. It is adult ticks that are responsible for the occurrence of Lyme disease during the fall and early winter.
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. PHE 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.
PHE runs a tick surveillance scheme and is happy to receive ticks for species identification and to monitor tick distribution.
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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.
Lyme Disease In Qubec
There are a dozen species of ticks in Québec. The only species that can transmit Lyme disease in Québec and northeastern North America is the Ixodes scapularis tick, also called the deer tick or blacklegged tick.
Since ticks can be transported by birds, they are found in almost all regions of Québec. However, not all ticks carry the bacteria. The risk of contracting Lyme disease is highest in sectors where there are established populations of blacklegged ticks that carry Borrelia burgdorferi. In Québec, according to available surveillance data, these tick are established in the following areas:
- 500 cases in 2019
- and 274 cases in 2020
The fact that Québec winters are less cold than they used to be partly explains the increases before 2020. The warmer climate enables the ticks to survive and grow more easily.
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Lyme Disease Diagnosis And Laboratory Testing
Lyme disease is diagnosed based on the presence of symptoms, a physical exam, the possibility of exposure to infected ticks and, if necessary, laboratory testing. If your health care provider suspects Lyme disease, you may be asked to provide a blood sample for testing.
Public health and laboratory experts in Canada, the United States and worldwide support the 2-step testing used in Alberta as the best laboratory method for supporting the diagnosis of Lyme disease. These high standards help protect individuals from misleading false-positive results and unnecessary treatments.
In Alberta, laboratory testing for the first step is done by the Provincial Laboratory for Public Health. The second verification step is done by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg to reduce the chances of false-positive results.
The Alberta government advises against the use of laboratory testing offered by some private laboratories outside of Canada. Some of these laboratories use non-standardized testing methods. These methods may report a higher number of false-positive results.
False positives can result in misdiagnosis that can lead to a delay in finding the actual cause of an individuals illness, as well as unnecessary, expensive and sometimes harmful treatments.
A 2014 study found that one alternate United States laboratory had incorrectly diagnosed Lyme disease in up to 57% of healthy people who did not have Lyme disease.
Protect You And Your Pets
- Wear light coloured clothes to spot ticks
- Use insect repellents that contains DEET or Icaridin
- Daily full body checks on yourself and pets after coming in from the outdoors
- Cut your grass and dispose of leaf litter
- Outdoor workers should shower or bath within two hours of being in forested or long grass areas
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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:
What If Lyme Disease Goes Untreated
If Lyme disease goes untreated, it can affect other systems in the body. According to the , common symptoms of later stage Lyme disease include:
- severe headaches and neck stiffness
- additional erythema migrans rashes on other areas of the body
- facial palsy, which is a loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face
- arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly in the knees and other large joints
- intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat
- episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
- inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
- nerve pain
- shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the 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
Lyme Disease Tick Bite On Dog
Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is a vector-borne disease caused by the Borrelia bacterium which is spread by ticks in the genus Ixodes. The most common sign of infection is an expanding red rash, known as erythema migrans, that appears at the site of the tick bite about a week after it occurred. The rash is typically neither itchy nor painful.
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What Are The Chances Of Lyme Disease After A Tick Bite
Medically reviewed by Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD on August 11, 2020. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection thatâs transmitted through the bite of an infected deer tick. But what are the chances of Lyme disease after a tick bite? In this quick article, weâll cover what Lyme disease is, factors that increase your risk of getting it after a bite, and helpful tick bite preventative measures you can use to help avoid it.
What Are The Signs Of Lyme Disease
Looking out for symptoms of Lyme disease, and checking yourself for ticks after you go to green spaces where they may be presentis very important. Prompt tick removal can reduce your chances of acquiring Lyme disease.
Rapidly recognising symptoms can ensure that if you are developing the disease you can receive the earliest diagnosis and treatment from your GP. If you are bitten by an infected tick your symptoms will typically develop 1-4 weeks after being bitten, however, they can appear anytime between 3 to30 days after exposure.
Symptoms include a spreading circular red rash, which may appear as a bulls-eye rash like the image below, as well as non-specific flu-like symptoms. Although a lot of people associate the disease with the rash, 1/3 of people dont report seeing one.
Other signs to look out for include muscle or nerve pains or a drooping facial appearance when the nerves to the muscles around the upper part of the face are affected.
If you have developed symptoms after being bitten by a tick or spending time outdoors, immediately contact your GP or call NHS 111, mentioning where you have been and if you remember being bitten.
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You Do Not Usually Need Tests To Show That You Have Lyme Disease
In most cases, theres a clear sign of Lyme diseasea painless, spreading rash that often grows to look like a bulls eye. If you have this rash, and you recently had a tick bite or were in an area known for Lyme disease, you dont need a test. Instead, your doctor can just start treating you with antibiotics, as appropriate.
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How Can I Avoid Getting Bitten By A Tick Or Contracting Lyme
Ticks can thrive in a variety of environments. Ticks are found in thickets and coastal areas, or in low grasses and herbaceous vegetation, Ostfeld says. But theyre predominantly forest creatures. Grassy, bushy, and especially heavily wooded areas are all prime real estate for ticks. Staying away from those environments is your best defense, he says.
But if you do venture into such areas, wear long pants and boots, and take them off as soon as you get home. Ostfeld recommends throwing any clothing you were wearing into the dryer turned to high heat as soon as possible. Ticks love humidity, and theyve been shown to survive washing and drying. But toss your clothes in the dryer without wetting them, and the dry, hot conditions should kill them off, he says.
You can also use DEET and other bug repellents to effectively keep ticks away, he says. A chemical called permethrin is available as a spray and when applied to your boots or hiking pants, will kill ticks on contact.
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