If You Never Go Into The Wilderness Can You Still Encounter Ticks That Carry Lyme Disease
Yes. Suburbia creates an ideal environment to foster these ticks.
Its actually about a growing population of mice, Lewis says. In the suburbs, mice dont have a lot of predators and so their population has ballooned. And, he says, the white-footed mouse is the main carrier of ticks.
Going out into the wilderness is absolutely a risk factor, Lewis says. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas. Its whatever environment where mice live. Just keep in mind that Lyme comes from a little town in Connecticut, the town of Lyme. The regular people living in the town of Lyme were exposed to their backyards and parks. Thats where they picked it up.
Living With Lyme Disease: A Tick Bite At Age 2 Left South African Expat Kimberly Roos Horwitz Bed
Abu Dhabi-based expat is now trying to have a baby, after healing herself
I was in a living hell. My heart was constantly racing and pounding and I was gasping for air with every breath, says South African expat Kimberly Roos Horwitz, recalling her 27th year.
The tick bite was an annoyance to two-year-old Roos Horwitz more than anything else it kept itching and distracting her from what was really important playing. A few hours on, that irritation had turned into something more sinister. My parents remember that I wasnt eating, I had a fever and couldnt hold my head up. My mum said that I just wasnt myself at all and I had a rash all over my body, she says.
Then came the incident at age 27. Roos Horwitz was driving along the Corniche road in Abu Dhabi when her heart began to thunder and she stepped on the brakes. I remember a lot of people getting angry and honking at me. A very kind stranger called the ambulance for me and they said my heart rate and blood pressure were unstable. At the time, there was no explanation as to what caused it, she recalls.
What Does A Tick Bite Look Like Exactly
The signs of a tick bite actually vary from person to person, since everyones immune system reacts differently to them, explains Thomas Mather, Ph.D., director of the University of Rhode Islands Center for Vector-Borne Disease and Tick Encounter Resource Center. While someone may have a small, red bump after the tick detaches, others may develop an area of redness and itchiness.
Your best bet is to find the tick while its still on your skin. Ticks are designed to linger when they attach and bite, says Mather. The mouth of a tick contains a bunch of backward-pointing barbs that they use to stay put, meaning they are designed to lock and load, as Mather puts it. The biters also secrete a cement-like substance around their mouths to keep them stuck even if they were to be, say, absentmindedly scratched at.
Depending on where the tick is in its lifecyclelarva , nymph , or adult stage it can stick around anywhere from three to six days, Mather says. The longer theyre feeding, the bigger they getand the greater the risk of transmitting disease.
CREDIT: KitAy /
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How Can I Prevent Tick Bites Altogether
If your yard is on the wild side or youve got plans to go hiking, camping, or walking through the forest or mountains, youre in prime tick territory, per the CDC, and you’ll find ticks in highly wooded, humid areas like forests and trails. Headed somewhere you know might be tick-heavy? Spray your clothing, shoes, and camping gear with insecticides that contain 0.5 percent permethrin, Thomas Mather, PhD, director of the Center for Vector-Borne Disease at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, tells Women’s Health.
You should also try wearing colorful clothing , long-sleeves, and full-length pants, being sure to tuck your hanging sleeves into your gloves and shoes. Reapply your tick repellent throughout your day, and do careful tick checks after you’ve been outside for a significant amount of time. You can also keep tabs on local tick activity in your area by contacting your states health department .
How Do You Acquire This Borrelia Infection
Humans and animals are infected with the bacteria through hard-tick bites. The borrelia survive in the midgut of the ticks. The immature nymphs are most likely to transmit the infection. The ticks feed on infected animals and then on humans.
Ticks occur in high grass, brush, woodland and leafy forest. The main hosts for the ticks and borrelia are small to medium-sized animals in Europe and deer in North America.
- In North America, the tick vectors are Ixodes scapularis, I. pacificus, and 4 other tick species
- In Europe and Asia, the tick vectors are I. ricinus, I. hexagonus, and I. persulcatus
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Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented
People aren’t able to become immune to Lyme disease. So even if you’ve had Lyme disease, you can get it again. No vaccine is available currently to prevent the disease.
The FDA approved a Lyme vaccine called LYMErix in 1998. The vaccine was not 100% effective, however. The FDA still recommended preventing the disease in other ways. In 2002, the company that made LYMErix said it would no longer offer the vaccine.
To help prevent Lyme disease, follow these guidelines.
Lyme Sci: Help Ive Gotten A Tick Bite Now What
Tick season is in full-swing. How do I know that? I wake up practically every day to another text or email from a friend or relative telling me they had a tick bite.
Last week, I got a desperate call from a relative whose son had found a tick embedded in his skin after a camping trip. Both my cousin and her son are well aware of my daughters missed diagnosis and years long battle with Lyme and co-infections. Needless to say, they were in a panic. More about this later
Of course the best thing is to prevent tick bites in the first place, but life happens and thats probably why youre reading this.
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Do All Ticks Carry Lyme Disease
No. Commonly known as deer ticks, the tiny blacklegged ticks are the ones that carry Lyme disease. Immature ticks, called nymphs, are about the size of a poppyseed and adults are about the size of a sesame seed. Ticks at both of those life stages can transmit the bacteria that causes the disease.
But not all blacklegged ticks will give you Lyme disease. It depends on the area, Lewis says, but you can have up to half of the ticks carrying bacteria.
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
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What Are The Complications And Risks Of A Tick Bite
Experiencing a life-threatening illness from a tick bite is pretty uncommon, but it doesn’t hurt to be informed on the possible complications and risks. As you know, certain species of ticks are capable of transmitting infections, the most troubling being tick-borne diseases, explains Keri Peterson, MD, an internal medicine physician based in New York City. “The risk of developing these infections depends on where you live, the type of tick, and how long the tick was attached to the skin,” Dr. Peterson says.
The flu-like symptoms you might feel post-tick bite can mean a number of different things about your medical situation. “The timing of these symptoms vary depending on the type of tick and length of time it was attached to the skin,” says Gina Charles, MD, a family physician based in Pennsylvania. For this reason, no matter what kind of symptoms you’re feeling, the safest bet is always to visit your healthcare provider as soon as possible post-bite to determine if you’ve contracted any of the following.
If You Are Infected Can You Be Treated
There is a treatment that is effective in most cases, if you identify an infection early enough. If your doctor thinks you have an active, acute Lyme disease infection, or if a blood test reveals antibodies for the disease, they will likely prescribe an antibiotic.
Most people will get better from that treatment. However, in those where its not diagnosed in time, then it can turn into more unpleasant conditions, Lewis says. It can get into the nervous system and cause neurological symptoms, or get into the joints and cause arthritic symptoms, for example. Antibiotics can also help treat those more severe cases, too.
But, when left unresolved for six months to a year, Lyme disease symptoms can become highly problematic, Lewis says. This can happen when someone has mild symptoms and doesnt realize they have Lyme disease or in about a tenth of cases even after treatment, he says. This is often called chronic Lyme disease, but the medical community usually calls it post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome .
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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
What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Most children who develop Lyme disease do not recall having been bitten by a tick. Symptoms can appear a few days to many months after the bite, and can include:
- a rash in the form of a bulls-eye
- facial palsy, or weakness of the facial muscles
- headache/meningitis, or swelling of tissues around the brain and spinal cord
Children with a bulls-eye rash may also have systemic symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and joint aches. The rash may not have a classic bull-eye appearance, especially on people with darkly pigmented skin, and can be mistaken for cellulitis, ringworm, or other skin conditions. Children who develop a disseminated infection often have not had a preceding skin rash.
The most common late stage symptom of Lyme disease is arthritis, particularly in the large joints and especially the knee. Typically, the joints will be more swollen and tender than painful, and anti-inflammatory medicine can help.
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What You Need To Know About Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is an infection caused by the spiral-shaped bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is most commonly transmitted by a tick bite.
There are over 300,000 estimated new cases of Lyme disease in the United States each year.
The symptoms of Lyme disease depend on the how long the infection has been present in the body. The first sign of Lyme disease is often an expanding round or oval red “bullseye” rash.
If left untreated, people may develop neurological symptoms and heart problems, and have an approximately 60 percent chance of developing Lyme arthritis.
What Does A Tick Bite Typically Look Like
The tick bite itself will likely be so small and painless that you wont actually notice it, says Qurat Mudassar, MD, an infectious disease specialist and primary care physician at Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut. Youll likely only become aware that one of those little buggers has latched onto you if you actually find the tick attached to your skin, or if you develop one of the tell-tale rashes that signals youve been infected with a tick-borne illness.
The hallmark sign of Lyme infection is a rash that resembles a bullseye. , the rash is a localized infection, Dr. Mudassar says. The center may be clear with a red, circular margin outside. This rash may also become itchy or swollen for some people.
Here’s where it gets a little more complicated: Not everyone who develops Lyme disease gets a rash, and even the people that do often dont notice it, Dr. Mudassar says. Plus, the rash can show up on other areas of the body away from the bite site, so it might not raise any red flags.
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What Symptoms Should You Be Watching For
The classic indication of a Lyme disease infection is a rash that looks like a bulls eye. Centered around a red spot where an infected tick has bit someone, the circular rash expands as the bacteria disseminates throughout the body, Lewis says. But not everyone infected with Lyme disease gets a bulls eye rash, or you might not see it.
Other symptoms are a lot like those of the flu: muscle aches, fever or chills, fatigue, headache, and sometimes joint pain. If you think you might have Lyme disease, talk to your doctor. They will likely administer a blood test.
Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe
Lyme disease can be treated and cured with one of several oral antibiotics for 34 weeks. The skin rash will go away within a few days of beginning treatment, but other symptoms may persist for up to a few weeks. In severe cases of Lyme disease where the nervous system is involved, the antibiotic may need to be given intravenously. In late stage Lyme disease, symptoms may not go away completely, but should improve.
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How To Remove A Tick And Treat A Tick Bite
First, dont panic. If you find one attached to your skin, remove the tick as quickly as possible using a set of fine-tipped tweezers. Grab the tick as closely to the surface of your skin as possible, and pull upward with steady, even pressure. If mouth-parts are left in the skin, try your best to remove them, but if not just let your skin heal normally, says the CDC. Then, make sure to clean the bite area with soap and water or alcohol.
Dispose of the tick in a sealed bag or container, wrapped up tightly in tape, or by flushing it down the toilet, says the CDC. Never crush it with your fingers, and of course, in the weeks to follow you should keep an eye out for any lingering symptoms, like a rash. See your doctor if you experience flu-like symptoms, such as achy muscles, fever, swollen lymph nodes, or other unusual reactions that dont feel normal
Ticks can be tiny and they can be easily missed, so its important to do thorough body check after youve spent time outdoors. Be sure to look carefully under your arms, around your ears, inside your belly button, behind your knees, between your legs, and in your hair. Checking yourself, kids, and pets can go a long way in minimizing contact with these critters, says Dill.
And as always, stock up on the best tick repellents before your next outdoor adventure.
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Lyme Disease Surveillance In Canada
Lyme disease became a national notifiable disease in December 2009.
Canada continues to monitor the evolving geographic distribution and prevalence of infected ticks and cases of Lyme disease. Therefore, you must report clinically diagnosed or laboratory-confirmed cases to your provincial or territorial public health authorities.
Health professionals in Canada play a critical role in identifying and reporting cases of Lyme disease. See the surveillance section for more information on surveillance in Canada.
Consult the national case definition for additional information.
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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:
What Are The Subtypes Of Lyme Disease
There are different types of Borrelia in each continent resulting in various forms of Lyme disease in North America and Europe.
In North America, the infection is due to the subspecies B. burgdorferi sensu stricto and most often presents as:
- Erythema migrans
- Lyme arthritis
In Europe, Lyme disease is due to the subspecies B. burgdorferi sensu stricto, B. afzelii and B. garinii, and most often presents as:
- Erythema migrans
- Acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans
- Lyme neuroborreliosis.
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