What Is Lyme Disease
This bacterial infection is spread through the bite of a young deer tick or black-legged tick. These eight-legged creatures, about the size of a poppy seed, can be found in wooded and grassy areas throughout the United States, especially in New England and the Rocky Mountains.
Because these ticks are so small, most people donât realize when theyâre bitten. But the longer a tick stays attached to you, the more likely it is to transmit Borrelia burgdorferi , if the tick is a carrier.
If not found and treated, Lyme disease can lead to problems with your joints, heart, and nervous system. It can even affect your memory.
How To Remove A Tick
Should A Tick Be Tested For Disease
People who have removed a tick often wonder if they should have it tested. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the testing of individual ticks is not useful because:
- The testing of ticks for the presence of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease has no role in the clinical diagnosis of Lyme disease.
- If the test shows the tick contained disease-causing organisms, that does not necessarily mean that you have been infected.
- If someone has been infected by a tick bite, symptoms may begin to occur even before the results of tick testing are available. People should not to wait for tick testing results before seeking medical advice should any symptoms develop.
- Negative results can lead to false assurance. For example, you may have been unknowingly bitten by a different tick that was infected.
- Tests performed on the ticks are not perfect and they do not test for all infections ticks may be carrying. Therefore, even with a negative result, people should still monitor themselves for the appearance of rash, fever or other unusual symptoms and immediately seek the advice of a health care provider should any symptoms occur.
- A positive test on a tick is not an automatic indication that treatment is needed. A positive test indicates that the tick was infected but not that the tick was successful in spreading the infection to the person bitten. The longer a tick is attached to you, the greater the chance that it will spread infection.
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Cdc Supports The Development Of New Tests
New tests may be developed as alternatives to one or both steps of the two-step process. Before CDC will recommend new tests, they must be cleared by the Food and Drug Administration . For more details, see: Recommendations for Test Performance and Interpretation from the Second National Conference on Serologic Diagnosis of Lyme Disease.
What Abnormal Results Mean
A positive ELISA result is abnormal. This means antibodies were seen in your blood sample. But, this does not confirm a diagnosis of Lyme disease. A positive ELISA result must be followed up with a Western blot test. Only a positive Western blot test can confirm the diagnosis of Lyme disease.
For many people, the ELISA test remains positive, even after they have been treated for Lyme disease and no longer have symptoms.
A positive ELISA test may also occur with certain diseases not related to Lyme disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
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What Should You Do If You Find A Tick
Don’t touch the tick with your bare hand.
Use a pair of tweezers to remove the tick. Grab the tick firmly by its mouth or head as close to your skin as possible.
Pull up slowly and steadily without twisting until it lets go. Don’t squeeze the tick, and don’t use petroleum jelly, solvents, knives, or a lit match to kill the tick.
Save the tick. Place it in a plastic container or bag so it can be tested for disease, if needed.
Wash the bite area well with soap and water and put an antiseptic lotion or cream on the site.
What Is Lyme Disease And How Do You Treat It
Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi which is spread to people through the bite of infected black-legged ticks, also popularly known as deer ticks. Early symptoms include a typical enlarging red rash at the site of the tick bite. This is common, but not everyone with Lyme disease gets this rash. Other signs of Lyme include flu-like symptoms . If left untreated, over time the infection can lead to Bells palsy , meningitis , heart rhythm problems, and joint pain and swelling. Additional symptoms can include headaches and stiff neck, tingling and numbness , and rarely, inflammation of the eyes.
The diagnosis is usually based on a persons symptoms, the presence of the typical rash, and a history of likely exposure to infected ticks. Lab tests for Lyme disease do not turn positive until three to four weeks after the infection. Usually doctors do not wait for the results of these tests during the early stage of the disease, to begin treatment.
Once diagnosed, Lyme disease can be successfully treated with a few weeks of oral antibiotics. Doxycycline is the antibiotic prescribed to all but pregnant women and children, who usually get the antibiotics amoxicillin or cefuroxime. For people with severe heart or neurological symptoms of Lyme, intravenous antibiotics are usually necessary.
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Tick Identification And Testing Services
MDPH does not offer tick identification or tick testing. While testing ticks can provide useful information, there are some notable issues:
- Positive or negative results from a tick or ticks attached to a person do not provide definitive evidence that that you were exposed or not exposed
- Most people diagnosed with a tick-borne disease are not aware that they have been bitten by a tick and the tick you do find may not be the only tick that bit you
- It is possible to be bitten by a tick carrying a disease and not be infected with that disease, depending on many factors, including how long the tick was attached to you
If you choose to have a tick tested, it is important to keep in mind the following:
My Dog Is Lyme Positive
The increased prevalence of ticks in the Chittenden County over the last 10 years has led to a greater number of dogs testing positive for Lyme disease.
The first thing to know when your dog tests positive for Lyme disease is that this test merely identifies dogs that have been exposed to the organism that can cause Lyme disease, not the illness itself. Some time since, or just prior to, the last test, your dog was bitten by a tick that harbored the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi. According to a study at Cornell University, 94% of dogs that have been exposed will never develop disease symptoms. This means a positive test is not the end of the world.
Clinical Lyme disease manifests itself in a variety of ways but most commonly we will see limping that is often combined with a decreased appetite and energy level. A physical exam will typically identify joint swelling, pain, fever and sometimes enlarged lymph nodes. If your dog is exhibiting these clinical signs then treatment is imperative. The antibiotic Doxycycline is our first choice. Signs typically resolve within the first three days and improvement can be seen within 24 hours. Typically a 3-4 week course of antibiotics is recommended but longer treatments are sometimes advised.
What lameness can look like with Lyme disease :
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Submitting Ticks To A Provincial Public Health Laboratory
If possible, send any ticks that you have removed to a public health laboratory in your area. However, tick identification and testing is not done in all provinces of Canada.The following provinces accept submissions:
Contact your local public health authority for details on:
- the tick identification and testing program available in your area
- how to submit a tick for testing
The public health laboratory will:
- identify the tick
- forward only blacklegged ticks to the National Microbiology Laboratory for testing
S To Boost The Immune System
Here are some lifestyle steps to boost the immune system to keep an inactive Lyme infection under control.
- regular sleep of seven or more hours a night,
- regular exercise.whole and organic foods to limit toxins that can suppress the immune system,
- a good multi-vitamin that provides all of the essential nutrients the immune system requires, and
- ongoing emotional detoxification .
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Is There A Blood Test For Lyme Disease
If your doctor suspects that you have Lyme disease, they may order two blood tests. These will look for signs that your body is trying to fight it off. The results are most precise a few weeks after youâve been infected.
These tests are:
ELISA test. This test canât check for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. It can only look for your immune systemâs response to it.
Once Borrelia burgdorferi gets into your blood, your body begins to make special proteins called antibodies to fight it off. The ELISA test checks for those antibodies.
Although itâs the most common way to check for Lyme disease, the ELISA test isnât perfect. It can sometimes give false âpositiveâ results. On the other hand, if you have it done too soon after youâve been infected, your body may not have developed enough antibodies for the test to detect them. This will give you a ânegativeâ result even though you do have Lyme disease.
Western blot test. Whether your ELISA test comes back positive or negative, your doctor will need to do this blood test, too.
A Western blot uses electricity to split certain proteins in your blood into patterns. This is then compared to the pattern of people known to have Lyme disease.
At least five band matches means that you have Lyme disease. Still, not all labs have the same standards. Thereâs a chance that you could get a âpositiveâ result from one and a ânegativeâ result from another.
- Alzheimerâs disease
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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Is There A Cure Or A Drug Prescribed For People Who Have Not Had Lyme Disease But Are Suffering From The Lymerix Vaccination
The issue of adverse events from the LYMErix vaccine has been under active investigation. If you are suffering from neuropathic pains or arthritic problems after the vaccine, you might consider contacting the Lyme Disease Association for a referral to a physician with a particular clinical and research interest in this question.
My Tick Test Returned Positive For Lyme Disease Babesia Or Another Tick
Tick testing can provide you with an important early warning that you have been exposed to a tick-borne disease. If your tick submission comes back positive, there are steps that you can take to ensure the health of yourself or your loved one.
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When To Get A Tick Tested
You should strongly consider having your tick tested if:
- The tick was attached to your body, not simply crawling around
- You live in or have visited a place where there are infected ticks
Lyme disease has been reported in 49 US states and 65 countries around the world. Infected ticks have been found in 42 of 58 California counties. See here for a CDC map showing geographic reporting of Lyme disease.
In addition, tick testing may be especially important if there is skepticism about the presence of Lyme disease in your community.
If you are showing symptoms call your doctor immediately. Take the tick with you and ask your doctor about a tick test. Keep in mind that symptoms may take weeks or longer to appear. It may also take several weeks to get back the results of a tick test.
Note: tick testing is not a substitute for clinical diagnosis. Tick testing provides information about whether and/or what pathogens the tick may be carrying and about potential risk to the individual bitten by the tick, but it is not an assessment of human infection. You should consult your doctor for medical advice or treatment.
Two Ticks Test Positive For Lyme Disease
Two blacklegged ticks that were found locally have tested positive for the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease. These are the second and third positive ticks reported in the Public Health Sudbury & Districts service area this year. In 2020, four positive ticks were found in our service area. Public Health Sudbury & Districts continues to identify and test ticks that have been found on humans through the Public Health Ontario Laboratory. Public Health carefully monitors local tick and Lyme disease data to determine if additional active tick surveillance is required in specific geographic areas.
Public Health Sudbury & Districts is reminding everyone of the importance of taking precautions to protect themselves and those in their care. For example:
- avoid walking in tall grass and make sure yards are kept clear of debris and overgrown vegetation, grass, bushes, and trees
- keep wood piles and bird feeders away from homes
- wear a long-sleeved, light-coloured shirt, pants, and closed-toe shoes
- use insect repellents that are federally regulated and contain DEET, and follow the manufacturers instructions for their safe use
- check your clothing, body, and pets for ticks and change your clothing upon returning home from the outdoors
- take a shower to help wash off ticks that have not yet attached themselves to the skin
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What To Do After Removing An Attached Tick That Has Bitten You
In general, the CDC does not recomment taking antibiotics prophylactically after tick bites to prevent tickborne diseases. However, in certain circumstances, a single dose of doxycycline after a tick bite may lower your risk of Lyme disease. Consider talking to your healthcare provider if you live in an area where Lyme disease is common to discuss prophylaxic doxycycline and other options.
Investigation Of Suspected Neurological Lyme Disease
The diagnosis of neurological Lyme disease can only be confirmed by examination of the CSF and a paired serum. A definite diagnosis is based on the presence of a pleocytosis in the CSF, demonstration of intrathecal synthesis of specific antibodies to Borrelia species in CSF by comparison to serum and the presence of neurological symptoms. It is not possible to confirm intrathecal synthesis and hence definite neurological Lyme disease without a paired serum .
In 2018 RIPL is introducing a service for the detection of intrathecal synthesis of Borrelia-specific antibodies which is summarised in this flow diagram.
Clinicians may ask for guidance on laboratory testing of CSF from RIPL if required.
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Is Treatment 100% Effective
Scientists are divided on this topic. Some studies suggest that that even long-term antibiotics may not completely clear infection dogs may get sick again at some point after antibiotic treatment is stopped. Other studies suggest that complete clearance of infection is possible with antibiotic treatment. Further research is required to answer this question.