How Ticks Find Their Hosts
Ticks can’t fly or jump. Instead, they wait for a host, resting on the tips of grasses and shrubs in a position known as “questing”. While questing, ticks hold onto leaves and grass by their lower legs. They hold their upper pair of legs outstretched, waiting to climb onto a passing host. When a host brushes the spot where a tick is waiting, it quickly climbs aboard. It then finds a suitable place to bite its host.
When Can I Get Lyme Disease
Lyme disease can occur during any time of the year. The bacteria that cause Lyme disease are spread by infected black-legged ticks. Young ticks are most active during the warm weather months between May and July. Adult ticks are most active during the fall and spring but may also be out searching for a host any time that winter temperatures are above freezing.
Can You Get Rid Of Lyme Disease
Although most cases of Lyme disease can be cured with a 2- to 4-week course of oral antibiotics, patients can sometimes have symptoms of pain, fatigue, or difficulty thinking that last for more than 6 months after they finish treatment. This condition is called Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome .
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Lyme Disease Is On The Rise An Expert Explains Why
May marks the beginning of the summer season when black-legged ticks that spread Lyme disease are more prevalent even in California.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that cases of tickborne diseases had more than doubled from 2004 to 2016, from 22,000 to 48,000, and that Lyme disease accounted for 82 percent of tickborne diseases.
Moreover, due to underreporting, the actual number of Lyme disease cases is estimated to be significantly higher likely more than 350,000 in 2016.
We talked to infectious disease expert Charles Chiu, MD, PhD, about the rise in Lyme disease cases, better diagnostic tests on the horizon and what you need to know to protect yourself from infection. Chiu is an associate professor of laboratory medicine and medicine and director of the UCSF-Abbott Viral Diagnostics and Discovery Center.How common is Lyme disease in California? And why have rates been increasing?
In terms of reported cases, there are about 80 to 100 a year in the state. Residents in or travelers to the northwestern coastal counties Trinity, Humboldt, and Mendocino are at highest risk. But because of underreporting, the actual number of Lyme disease cases likely exceeds 1,000 cases a year, simply because most cases of Lyme disease are not reported.
How is Lyme disease transmitted, and is it contagious between humans?
Compared to other infections, is Lyme disease more difficult to detect and diagnose?
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 can be found in any areas with deep or overgrown plants where they have access to animals to feed on.
They’re common in woodland and moorland areas, but can also be found in gardens or parks.
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.
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Are Cases Of Lyme Disease Increasing
Studies in Europe estimate that 1-5% of tick bites can lead to Lyme disease. On average, between 2.55.1% of ticks are infected in England and Wales, although this range can fluctuate in different areas and across years.
Since data collection began in 2005, there has been a general trend of increasing cases of Lyme disease, although yearly fluctuations have been observed. In 2021, there were a total of 1,156 laboratory-confirmed cases of Lyme disease in England and Wales.
The rise in total cases may be due to a combination of increased awareness of Lyme disease as well as improved surveillance, better access to diagnostics, increased potential for encounters with ticks due to changes in wildlife populations and habitat modification that may have resulted in changes in tick distribution across the country.
How To Avoid Getting A Tick Bite
You might be at risk if you live, work in, or visit a wooded area, or an area with tall grasses and bushes .
You may also be at risk if you are involved in outdoor activities such as hiking, camping and gardening.
You may be bitten by a tick and not even know it.
Heres what you can do to avoid getting a tick bite.
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Treatment Of The Disease
Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. The nature and duration of the treatment depends on the stage of infection and symptoms.
People who are treated usually experience a quick and full recovery from the disease. Some, however, may have symptoms for several months after the treatment.
How Do I Avoid Getting Bitten By A Tick
The best way to protect you against Lyme disease and other tickborne illnesses is to avoid tick bites. This includes avoiding tick-infested areas. However, if you live in or visit wooded areas or areas with tall grass and weeds, follow these precautions against Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and tularemia:
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How Afraid Should We Be Of Ticks And Lyme Disease
There has been a surge in cases of the tick-borne infection, with rugby star Matt Dawson the latest public figure to warn of the dangers after needing heart surgery to recover. Heres the truth about the tiny creatures and the harm they can cause
Infected deer ticks are nothing if not indiscriminate when they gorge on human blood. And when the eyeless arachnids sink their teeth into celebrity skin and transmit Lyme disease, we all hear about it. Avril Lavigne, Richard Gere and George W Bush are all said to have experienced the horrors of hosting the borrelia bacteria that can cause a range of debilitating symptoms from fatigue and joint pain to heart problems and partial paralysis.
The ticks latest high-profile victim? Matt Dawson, the former England rugby captain, who was bitten while relaxing in a west-London park two summers ago. After a GP failed to consider Lyme disease as a possible cause of his early symptoms which included a bulls eye-shaped rash and a fever a private medical test revealed not only the presence of the disease but also damage to Dawsons heart, which then required multiple operations.
Lyme disease was something Id always associated with places abroad on the continent, in America, wherever there were deer, the 44-year-old said this week while campaigning for tick awareness alongside the nature presenter Chris Packham. It was a really scary time for me and my family. Such a tiny creature caused me to end up needing heart surgery.
What If A Tick Bites My Dog
The more ticks in your region, the likelier it is that your furry pal will bring them home.
Your dog is much more likely to be bitten by a tick than you are. And where Lyme disease is common, up to 25% of dogs have had it at some point.
About 10% of dogs with Lyme disease will get sick. 7-21 days after a tick bite, your dog might seem like theyâre walking on eggshells. They also might have a fever and enlarged lymph nodes. Plus, they might seem tired. Dogs also get antibiotics for Lyme.
What if my dog brings ticks into my home?
Use a tick control product on your pet to prevent Lyme disease. Also, have your dog vaccinated against Lyme.
Check your dogâs whole body each day for bumps. If you notice a swollen area, see if thereâs a tick there. If you find a tick, wear gloves while you use tweezers to separate it from your dog. Then, put it in soapy water or alcohol, or flush it down the toilet.
Use alcohol to clean the spot on your dog where the tick was attached. Keep an eye on that spot, and also on your dog to make sure theyâre behaving normally. If you notice any changes, check with your vet.
John Aucott, MD, assistant professor of medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine director, Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center.
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: âVital Signs: Trends in Reported Vectorborne Disease Cases — United States and Territories, 2004-2016.â
American College of Rheumatology.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
The list of possible symptoms is long, and symptoms can affect every part of the body. The following are the most common symptoms of Lyme disease. But symptoms are slightly different for each person.
The primary symptom is a red rash that:
Can appear several days after infection, or not at all
Can last up to several weeks
Can be very small or grow very large , and may resemble a “bulls-eye”
Can mimic such skin problems as hives, eczema, sunburn, poison ivy, and flea bites
Can itch or feel hot, or may not be felt at all
Can disappear and return several weeks later
Several days or weeks after a bite from an infected tick, you may have flu-like symptoms such as the following:
Weeks to months after the bite, the following symptoms may develop:
Neurological symptoms, including inflammation of the nervous system and weakness and paralysis of the facial muscles
Heart problems, including inflammation of the heart and problems with heart rate
Eye problems, including inflammation
Months to a few years after a bite, the following symptoms may include:
Inflammation of the joints
Neurological symptoms including numbness in the extremities, tingling and pain, and difficulties with speech, memory, and concentration
Some people may develop post-Lyme disease syndrome . A condition also known as chronic Lyme disease includes PLDS, but also other syndromes. Usually, these are characterized by persistent musculoskeletal and peripheral nerve pain, fatigue, and memory impairment.
Can Lyme Disease Be Treated
Yes. People treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely. Antibiotics commonly used for oral treatment include doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil. People with certain neurological or cardiac forms of illness may require intravenous treatment with antibiotics such as ceftriaxone or penicillin. For additional information, please consult the CDC webpage at .
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Odds Of Catching Lyme Disease From A Tick Bite
The chance of catching Lyme disease from an individual tick ranges from roughly zero to 50 percent. Risk of contracting Lyme disease from a tick bite depends on three factors: the tick species, where the tick came from, and how long it was biting you. Thats why the sooner you can remove the entire tick, the lower your chances of contracting a tick-borne disease.
Where we live makes a difference in these odds, too. We live in the upper Midwest, and unfortunately for us, a recent study found that up to 50 percent of blacklegged ticks are infected with Lyme disease. The Centers for Disease Control, however, state that it takes a tick 36 to 48 hours attached to the skin to transmit symptoms from tick bites and tick-borne disease.
Whether or not that timeframe is true, I cant say for sure. But I can say that Lyme disease is preventable, and taking a proactive approach to avoiding tick bites can save you a lot of aggravation. If you do spot a tick on yourself or your child, take them to the doctor or Firelands Regional Medical Center QuickCare, where they may be prescribed antibiotics. You can even opt to have the tick tested for Lyme disease.
Most of the time tick bites are harmless and symptoms from tick bites are rare. However general symptoms from tick bites include:
Dr. Mark Schmiedl
- Pain or swelling on the bite site
- Burning sensation on the bite site
- Red spot or rash near the bite site
- Full body rash
- Muscle or joint pain or achiness
How To Prevent Lyme Disease
If youâre a camper, hiker, or outdoor enthusiast, take these simple measures to help prevent tick bites and Lyme disease.
- Use a tick repellent containing 20%-30% DEET or 20% Picaridin. Re-apply as needed.
- Stay in the middle of trails when hiking and exploring.
- Wear appropriate protective clothing.
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Lyme Disease Signs And Symptoms
Most symptoms of Lyme disease in humans usually appear between three and 30 days after a bite from an infected blacklegged tick.
You should contact your local public health unit or speak to a health care professional right away if you have been somewhere that ticks might live and experience any of the following symptoms:
- a bulls-eye rash (a red patch on the skin that is usually round or oval and more than 5 cm that spreads outwards and is getting bigger
- a bruise-like rash
- another type of unusual rash
- muscle aches and joint pains
- swollen lymph nodes
- spasms, numbness or tingling
- facial paralysis
If not treated, Lyme disease can make you feel tired and weak and, if it gets really bad, it can even harm your heart, nerves, liver and joints. Symptoms from untreated Lyme disease can last years and include recurring arthritis and neurological problems, numbness, paralysis and, in very rare cases, death.
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.
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Keep A Lookout For Symptoms From Tick Bite This Summer
Have you checked yourself or your child for tick bites lately?
If you havent already heard, this summer is a particularly booming year for tick populations across the country and in the state of Ohio. A black-legged tick , the kind that sometimes carries Lyme disease, was spotted just to the east of us in Vermilion earlier this summer. And Ohio is on the list of 24 states that contains counties with newly documented populations of deer ticks.
Tick bites are common. Some people are unaware of a tick bite at first. Be sure to check yourself and your children often, especially throughout the summer months when tick populations grow. Ticks are especially attracted to warm, moist areas of the skin like armpits, groins, or hair. Once they bite you, a tick may stick around drawing your blood for up to 10 days. The sooner you spot and remove a tick, the better.
Data Description Of Three Nationwide Prospective Studies
All study participants were asked to fill out questionnaires at enrollment and at follow-up, including questions on duration of tick attachment in the skin, the number of tick bites, and development of Lyme borreliosis. In TR1213 and GP0708, patient reported development of Lyme borreliosis was confirmed through an additional questionnaire sent to their general practitioner. Our outcome measure Lyme borreliosis within three months after a tick bite was categorized as physician-confirmed erythema migrans or physician-confirmed disseminated Lyme borreliosis when patient-reported Lyme borreliosis was confirmed by the general practitioner through that additional questionnaire. In EP0911, and for participants of TR1213 and GP0708 whose general practitioner did not respond to the questionnaire, patient-reported erythema migrans combined with prescribed antibiotics was categorized as probable erythema migrans. Our outcome measure Lyme borreliosis after a tick bite contained 29 physician-confirmed erythema migrans, and 21 probable erythema migrans with antibiotic treatment.
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What Do You Do If There’s A Tick Under Your Skin
Use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to remove it as soon as possible. Pull upward with steady pressure. If parts of the tick are still in your skin, try to get those with the tweezers, too. After everything is out, clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
You probably wonât get infected if you remove the tick within 36 to 48 hours.
How do you throw away a tick?
Put it in soapy water or alcohol, stick it to a piece of tape, or flush it down the toilet.
Where Can I Get More Information
- For questions about your own health, contact your doctor, nurse, or clinic
- For questions about diseases spread by ticks, contact the MDPH at 983-6800 or online on the MDPH Tickborne Diseases website . You may also contact your local Board of Health .
- Health effects of pesticides, MDPH, Bureau of Environmental Health at 624-5757
Chinese, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese translations of this fact sheet are available under additional resources.
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