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.
What Are The Stages Of Lyme Infection
There are three stages:
- Early localized Lyme: Flu-like symptoms like fever, chills, headache, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, and a rash that looks like a bull’s-eye or is round and red and at least 2 inches long
- Early disseminated Lyme: Flu-like symptoms like pain, weakness, or numbness in your arms and legs, changes in your vision, heart palpitations and chest pain, a rash , and a type of facial paralysis known as Bellâs palsy
- Late disseminated Lyme: This can happen weeks, months, or years after the tick bite. Symptoms might include arthritis, severe fatigue and headaches, dizziness, trouble sleeping, and confusion.
About 10% of people treated for Lyme infection donât shake the disease. They may go on to have three core symptoms: joint or muscle pain, fatigue, and short-term memory loss or confusion. This is called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome. It can be hard to diagnose because it has the same symptoms as other diseases. Plus, there isn’t a blood test to confirm it.
Experts arenât sure why Lyme symptoms donât always go away. One theory is that your body keeps fighting the infection even after the bacteria are gone, like an autoimmune disorder.
Cognitive Neurological And Psychological Symptoms
Lyme disease can cause cognitive, neurological, and, in some cases, psychological symptoms. It can affect the central, cranial, and peripheral nervous systems.
When the bacteria affect the nervous systems, it can cause neurological symptoms. They :
- Central nervous system: This may cause sensitivity to light, issues with vision, stiff neck, fever, or headache.
- Cranial nervous system: This may cause facial palsy, which is drooping facial features on one or both sides of the face.
- Peripheral nervous system: This may cause tingling or numbness, a sharp, shooting pain, and weakness in the arms or legs.
The symptoms can often resemble those of other disorders, which could lead to misdiagnosis.
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Stage : Early Localized Disease
Symptoms of Lyme disease usually start 3 to 30 days after the tick bite. One of the earliest signs of the disease is a bulls-eye rash.
The rash occurs at the site of the tick bite, usually, but not always, as a central red spot surrounded by a clear spot with an area of redness at the edge. It may be warm to the touch, but its not painful and doesnt itch. This rash will gradually fade in most people.
The formal name for this rash is erythema migrans.
Some people with lighter skin have a rash thats solid red. Some people with darker skin may have a rash that resembles a bruise.
The rash can occur with or without systemic viral or flu-like symptoms.
Other symptoms commonly seen in this stage of Lyme disease include:
Youll have a general feeling of being unwell. A rash may appear in areas other than the tick bite.
This stage of the disease is primarily characterized by evidence of systemic infection, which means infection has spread throughout the body, including to other organs.
Symptoms can include:
- disturbances in heart rhythm, which can be caused by Lyme carditis
- neurologic conditions, such as numbness, tingling, facial and cranial nerve palsies, and meningitis
The symptoms of stages 1 and 2 can overlap.
Complications Of Untreated Lyme Disease
If unchecked, the Lyme disease infection can spread to other bodily systems, causing significant damage. Untreated, complications of this condition can be very severe:
- Arthritis:Prolonged infection with Lyme disease leads to chronic joint inflammation and swelling, usually in the knees . These symptoms tend to arise within two years of infection, with periods of flare-ups and remissions. This arthritis is relatively difficult to manage, though antibiotics and steroids may be attempted.
- Lyme carditis:If the bacteria reach the heart tissues, they can cause inflammation and lead to heart block. The electrical signals being sent between the upper and lower chambers of the heart are interrupted, impairing the coordination of the heartbeat. Though disruptive, this is rarely fatal.
- Lyme neuroborreliosis:Inflammation of multiple nerves, including those in the spine and brain, is the chief characteristic of this condition. This can also affect the meningesthe layer of tissue surrounding the brain and spineleading to meningitis, among other conditions. Antibiotic therapy, if applied promptly, tends to be effective as a treatment.
Even in cases where Lyme disease has progressed, antibiotic regimensespecially drugs like doxycyclineare generally successful in resolving problems.
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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 Diagnosed
Lyme disease may be difficult to diagnose because many of its symptoms mimic those of other disorders. In addition, the only distinctive symptom of Lyme disease, the red rash, does not happen or is not noticed by one-fifth of those who become infected. Many people cant recall having been bitten by a tick, because the tick is tiny, and its bite is usually painless.
If no rash is present, doctors will make the diagnosis on the basis of a detailed medical history, a careful physical examination, and laboratory tests to confirm their suspicion.
No test is perfect and the current testing for Lyme disease is no exception. Very early in the disease, testing will be negative as the body has not had time to develop a response that can be measured. Once the body responds, the positive test may persist for years even if Lyme is treated properly. Current research efforts are working to develop improved testing for Lyme disease.
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Untreated Lyme Disease Frequency
Its difficult to get exact numbers when it comes to Lyme disease, in part because theres only limited accounting of the conditions frequency overall, and its often misdiagnosed or mistaken for other conditions.
Currently, its estimated that 476,000 people develop it in the United States every year, with 81% of the cases clustered in the Northeast, upper Midwest, and mid-Atlantic regions.
A significantbut shrinkingproportion of those with the disease end up progressing without treatment. Current estimates are hard to come by. In 2012, researchers estimated that about 16% of Lyme disease cases present without rashincreasing the chance that the case is missed, overall. From 1.6% to 7% of all infections have no symptoms.
Knowledge and awareness of this disease have grown over the past couple of decades, greatly improving outcomes. This improving prognosis is associated with better care and detection, leading to timelier intervention.
If you live in a hot spot area for black-legged ticks, never hesitate to reach out to your healthcare professional if youre feeling sick or have a rash.
How Do People Get Lyme Disease
People can get Lyme disease through the bite of a blacklegged tick that is infected with Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Not all blacklegged ticks carry these bacteria and not all people bitten by a blacklegged tick will get sick. The tick must be attached to a person for at least 24-48 hours before it can spread Lyme disease bacteria.
Blacklegged ticks live on the ground in areas that are wooded or with lots of brush. The ticks search for hosts at or near ground level and grab onto a person or animal as they walk by. Ticks do not jump, fly, or fall from trees.
In Minnesota, the months of April through July and September through October are the greatest risk for being bitten by a blacklegged tick. Risk peaks in June or July every year. Blacklegged ticks are small adults are about the size of a sesame seed and nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed. Due to their small size, a person may not know they have been bitten by a tick.
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Symptoms Of Late Stage Lyme Disease
The CDC reports that late stage Lyme disease may appear days to months after the initial tick bite and may include but are not limited to:
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes in new places on the body
- Facial palsy, also known as Bells palsy paralysis of one side of the face
- Arthritis or joint pain and swelling, especially of large joints
- Intermittent tendon, muscle, joint, nerve, or bone pain
- Heart palpitations or arrhythmia
- Dizziness or shortness of breath
- Inflammation of the brain or spinal cord
- Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
As mentioned above, late stage Lyme may also be characterized by the recurrence of early stage symptoms, such as fatigue.
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Could You Have Lyme Disease And Not Even Know It
The scary truth about this sneaky illness.
After you get home from a glorious summer hike, you probably do a few things: post photos of the great outdoors to Instagram, take a quick shower, and chow down on some post-workout snacks. But if checking yourself for ticks isnt a part of that routine, you might be leaving yourself open to Lyme disease. It happens frequently that people have Lyme disease and dont know it, says Andrea Gaito, M.D., a rheumatologist with a private practice in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by tick bites, especially those from deer ticks. Approximately 70 percent of deer ticks are infected, says Gaito. And those of you in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania should be on high-alert: Your states have the highest rates of Lyme disease, which is much more manageable when caught early on, says Gaito.
It sounds pretty scary, but there are ways to figure out if youve got Lyme disease before it really has its hooks in youor even prevent it in the first place. Heres what to look out for.
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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
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.
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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 U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia too.
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.
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Incidence Of Lyme Disease Has Nearly Doubled Over The Last 3 Decades
Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne illness in the United States, effecting an estimated 476,000 people in the United States, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , and 130,000 people in Europe, according to research. The incidence of Lyme disease has nearly doubled in the last 30 years, a trend that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency links to climate change.
The disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and, rarely, Borrelia mayonii, which is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks, according to the CDC.
Symptoms can include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings and the whether or not tick exposure might have occurred lab testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods.
If diagnosed early, most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
Lyme Disease And The Cdc
In order for the Centers for Disease Control to recognize a Lyme case for surveillance purposes, there must be objective findings, such as positive blood tests, Bells palsy or joint swelling . The chart below reflects the CDC-reviewed surveillance case manifestations from 2001 to 2010.
This situation contributes to what many experts view as severe undercounting of Lyme disease by the CDC.
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How Can You Help Prevent Tick Bites
- Avoid direct contact with ticks
- Stay out of wooded and brushy areas with tall grass and leaf litter
- Walk in the center of trails when hiking
- Use repellents containing 2030 percent DEET on exposed skin and clothing to help repel ticks for several hours. Follow the instructions carefully. Parents should apply the repellent to children.
- Find and remove ticks from your body
- Bathe or shower soon after you come inside, ideally within two hours, to find and remove ticks.
- Do a full-body tick check using a mirror. Dont forget to check your hair.
- Examine your pets and gear for ticks that may have hitchhiked home in your backpack or coat.
- If manufacturer’s instructions allow, tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks effectively. If the clothes cannot be washed in hot water, tumble dry on low heat for 90 minutes or high heat for 60 minutes. The clothes should be warm and completely dry.
If you experience symptoms that may indicate Lyme disease, get medical treatment right away to help avoid potentially serious health consequences.
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.
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Stage : Later Symptoms
- shooting pains, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- heart palpitations
These symptoms may go away without treatment within a few weeks or months. However, some people develop chronic Lyme disease and have lasting symptoms.
Around of people who do not receive treatment for the disease develop recurrent episodes of arthritis with severe swelling, especially in the large joints.
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