How You Get Lyme Disease
If a tick bites an animal carrying the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, the tick can become infected. The tick can then transfer the bacteria to a human by biting them.
Ticks don’t jump or fly. They climb on to your clothes or skin if you brush against something they’re on. They then bite into the skin and start to feed on your blood.
Generally, you’re more likely to become infected if the tick is attached to your skin for more than 24 hours. Ticks are very small and their bites are not painful, so you may not realise you have one attached to your skin.
Regression And Other Symptoms In Children
Children are the largest population of Lyme patients.
The CDC study of reported Lyme cases from 19922006 found that the incidence of new cases was highest among 5- to 14-year-olds . About one quarter of reported Lyme cases in the United States involve children under 14 years old .
Children can have all the signs and symptoms of Lyme that adults have, but they may have trouble telling you exactly what they feel or where it hurts.
You may notice a decline in school performance, or your childs mood swings may become problematic.
Your childs social and speech skills or motor coordination may regress. Or your child may lose their appetite.
Children are more likely than adults to have arthritis as an initial symptom 01267-2/fulltext#sec0040″ rel=”nofollow”> 25).
In a 2012 Nova Scotian study of children with Lyme, 65 percent developed Lyme arthritis . The knee was the most commonly affected joint.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease can affect different body systems, such as the nervous system, joints, skin, and heart. The symptoms of Lyme disease are often described as happening in three stages. Not everyone with Lyme has all of these, though:
The rash sometimes has a “bull’s-eye” appearance, with a central red spot surrounded by clear skin that is ringed by an expanding red rash. It also can appear as an growing ring of solid redness. It’s usually flat and painless, but sometimes can be warm to the touch, itchy, scaly, burning, or prickling. The rash may look and feel very different from one person to the next. It can be harder to see on people with darker skin tones, where it can look like a bruise. It gets bigger for a few days to weeks, then goes away on its own. A person also may have flu-like symptoms such as fever, tiredness, headache, and muscle aches.
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How Is Lyme Disease Spread
People can become infected if they are bitten by a black-legged tick that is carrying Borrelia burgdorferi these ticks usually need to remain attached to a person for at least 36 hours to transmit the bacteria. These ticks live in forested or brushy areas and perch on tips of grasses or shrubs, then climb onto people or animals that brush by. They then crawl until they find a suitable place to bite. Ticks can bite any skin on the human body, but are often found in hard-to-see areas, such as the groin, armpits, or scalp.
Black-legged ticks pick up the bacteria after feeding on infected rodents. On the Pacific Coast, the western black-legged tick spreads Lyme disease. Both the western black-legged tick and the black-legged tick responsible for spreading Lyme disease in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and north-central United States , are also called deer ticks.
There is no evidence that Lyme disease can be passed from one person to another through touching, kissing, or sex. While dogs and cats can also get Lyme disease, there is no evidence that they can spread the disease directly to their owners. However, pets can transport infected ticks that then attach onto humans.
How Do I Remove A Tick
You should know how to remove a tick just in case one lands on you or a friend. To be safe, remove the tick as soon as possible.
If you find a tick:
- Use tweezers to grasp the tick firmly at its head or mouth, next to your skin.
- Pull firmly and steadily on the tick until it lets go of the skin. If part of the tick stays in your skin, don’t worry. It will eventually come out. But call your doctor if you notice any irritation in the area or symptoms of Lyme disease.
- Swab the bite site with alcohol.
Note: Don’t use petroleum jelly or a lit match to kill a tick. They won’t get the tick off your skin quickly enough, and may just cause it to burrow deeper into your skin.
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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.
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 ticks 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.
- Dont use kerosene, petroleum jelly or hot cigarette butts to remove the tick.
- Dont squeeze the ticks body with your fingers or tweezers.
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What To Do If You Have A Blacklegged Tick Bite
Remove the tick by pulling it directly out with fine-tipped tweezers. Lift upward with slow and even pressure. Dont twist when removing it. Dont crush it or put soap or other substances on it. Dont apply heat to it.
Place the tick in a resealable container. See if you can identify what kind of a tick it is.
Immediately after removing the tick, wash your skin well with soap and water or with rubbing alcohol.
Not all ticks carry Lyme. The Lyme bacteria is transmitted only by blacklegged ticks in their nymph or adult stage.
Save the tick to show your doctor. The doctor will want to determine if its a blacklegged tick and if theres evidence of feeding. Ticks enlarge as they feed. Your risk of getting Lyme from an infected tick increases with the length of time that the tick fed on your blood.
Pull the tick out with tweezers and save it in a resealable container for identification.
If My Animal Is Positive On The Assay Should He/she Be Treated For Lyme Disease
If your animal is displaying clinical signs of Lyme disease and is positive on the Lyme Multiplex assay, it is advisable to discuss treatment options with your veterinarian. If your animal appears healthy, discuss the risks and benefits of treatment and develop a monitoring plan with your veterinarian.
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Which Antibodies Does The Vaccine From Merial Induce
It is a recombinant vaccine based on Osp A. Vaccinated animals should develop high antibody levels to OspA and maintain negative antibody levels to the remaining two antigens. Infected/non-infected animals can be identified based on OspC and OspF antibody values. Detection of the early Lyme infection stage is possible after using this vaccine.
Signs Of Lyme Disease That Appear On Your Skin
Signs of Lyme disease
If you see a rash or another sign of Lyme disease on your skin, see your primary doctor right away. When caught early and treated, Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics and most people recover fully.
Lyme disease is caused by a bite from a black-legged tick. If you are bitten by this tick and develop Lyme disease, you may see a bulls-eye rash. Its a common sign of Lyme disease, but its not the only sign.
Lyme disease occurs in stages. Heres what you may see on your skin during each stage.
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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.
Prevalence Of Lyme Disease In The United States
Lyme disease is the most frequently reported vector-borne illness in the United States. Although very prevalent in the northeasten and upper Midwestern states and to a lesser extent in the Pacific coastal states, the disease rarely occurs in other parts of the country unless a person who gets Lyme disease visited a disease prevelent area.
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When Should I Call The Doctor
If a tick bites you, call your doctor. Other conditions can cause similar symptoms, so it’s always a good idea to discuss them with your doctor. That way you can get checked and treated, if needed. Call right away if you get a red-ringed rash, lasting flu-like symptoms, joint pain or a swollen joint, or facial paralysis.
What’s The Best Way To Prevent A Tick Bite
Ticks can’t fly or jump. But they live in shrubs and bushes and can grab onto you when you pass by. To avoid getting bitten:
- Wear pants and socks in areas with lots of trees and when you touch fallen leaves.
- Wear a tick repellent on your skin and clothing that has DEET, lemon oil, or eucalyptus.
- For even more protection, use the chemical permethrin on clothing and camping gear.
- Shower within 2 hours after coming inside. Look for ticks on your skin, and wash ticks out of your hair.
- Put your clothing and any exposed gear into a hot dryer to kill whatever pests might be on them.
How do you know if you’ve been bitten?
Since ticks are so small, you’ve got to have pretty good eyes to see them.
If you have a small, red bump on your skin that looks like a mosquito bite, it could be a tick bite. If it goes away in a few days, itâs not a problem. Remember, a tick bite doesnât necessarily mean you have Lyme disease.
If you notice a rash in the shape of a bull’s-eye, you might have a tick bite. Talk to your doctor about treatment.
If you have an allergic reaction to ticks, you’ll notice a bite right away.
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How Can I Protect My Child From Deer Ticks
Ticks cannot jump or fly. They climb tall grasses or shrubs and wait for potential hosts to brush against them.
If you live, hike or camp in rural or wooded areas where you may be exposed to ticks, especially from late spring to early fall, you should take precautions. Here is what you can do to help prevent contact with infected ticks:
- In wooded areas and parks, stay on paths to avoid areas where ticks are most common.
- Ensure you and your children are dressed in long, loose-fitting clothes that cover the arms and legs, a hat and closed shoes . Tucking shirts into pants and pants into socks are extra precautions.
- Use insect repellents containing DEET or icaridin as directed on the label. Reapply as suggested.
- Practice daily full body checks for ticks, and remove any attached ticks.
- Shower or bathe within a few hours of being outdoors.
- Keep gardens tidy and landscaped if you live near a wooded area.
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent Lyme disease in humans.
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Lyme Disease Rashes And Look
Circular, expanding rash with target-like appearance.
Expanding rash with central crust
Expanding lesion with central crust on chest.
Expanding erythema migrans
Photo Credit: Reprinted from Bhate C, Schwartz RA. Lyme disease: Part I. Advances and perspectivesexternal icon. J Am Acad Dermatol 2011 64:619-36, with permission from Elsevier.
Description:Early, expanding erythema migrans with nodule.
Multiple rashes, disseminated infection
Early disseminated Lyme disease multiple lesions with dusky centers.
Red, oval plaque
Red, expanding oval-shaped plaque on trunk.
Expanding rash with central clearing
Circular, expanding rash with central clearing.
Bluish hued rash, no central clearing
Bluish hued without central clearing.
Expanding lesion, no central clearing
Expanding lesion without central clearing on back of knee.
Red-blue lesion with central clearing
Red-blue lesion with some central clearing on back of knee.
Insect bite hyper-sensitivity
Large itchy rash caused by an allergic reaction to an insect bite.
Fixed drug reaction
Description:A skin condition that occurs up to two weeks after a person takes a medication. The skin condition reappears at the same location every time a person takes that particular medication.
Description:Ringworm is a common skin infection that is caused by a fungus. Its called ringworm because it can cause a ring-shaped rash that is usually red and itchy with raised edges.
Pityriasis rosea rash
Granuloma annulare rash
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Lyme Disease In Children
Transmission dynamics are virtually the same for children as adults, but since children usually spend more time outdoors than adults, they are more likely to be exposed to ticks. Therefore, Lyme disease occurs more often in children than adults, but when Lyme disease is diagnosed early, most children will fully recover. The typical symptoms found in children are those commonly experienced by adults.
Lyme Disease And Other Diseases Spread By Ticks
Tick-borne diseases are on the rise and present throughout our region. Prevention should be on everyones mind, particularly during the spring, summer and early fall when ticks are most active.
Lyme disease is the most commonly-reported tick-borne disease in our area. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can cause fever, headache, fatigue and a characteristic skin rash. If left untreated, the disease can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system.
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When Should I Go See My Doctor
Anyone who has been bitten by a black-legged deer tick is at risk for Lyme disease. The highest risk groups include those living in or visiting endemic areas, especially people who spend significant time outdoors such as gardeners, hikers, or outdoor workers.
Patients should seek advice from their doctor if they have a suspicious round expanding red skin lesion, and/or show signs of summer-flu, particularly during Lyme disease season, which is highest-risk late spring through July/August. If those circumstances apply or symptoms persist it is very important to go to a physician.
For the west coast and other more temperate regions Lyme disease can be a year-round concern.
In the later disseminated stages, Lyme disease can be a much more insidious and complex illness. An individual should seek medical care if experiencing symptoms such as prolonged fevers, unexplained fatigue, painful joints, new or unusual headache, or heart or neurologic symptoms. If unexplained viral-like symptoms last for more than 1-2 weeks, please seek the advice of a physician.
Can My Animal Get Infected Despite Being Vaccinated
Yes. Some animals have been infected despite vaccination. The most common reasons are low or short-lasting vaccine antibodies in the individual animal. It is advisable to monitor the vaccine response annually to ensure the animal develops sufficient antibodies in response to vaccination. Vaccine antibodies can be quantified with the Lyme Multiplex assay as early as two weeks following vaccination or anytime afterwards.
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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.
Images 4 and 5: Getty Images
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:
Signs and symptoms of untreated Lyme disease. Page last updated October 26, 2016. Last accessed May 2, 2018.
Lyme disease: transmission. Page lasted updated March 4, 2015. Last accessed May 2, 2018.