What to Do if You Find a Tick: Lyme Disease Symptoms and More

Lyme illness, an sickness caused by bacteria transmitted to people by way of the bites of sure species of ticks, has been notoriously misunderstood and underdiagnosed. But the deer or black-legged ticks that trigger the sickness within the US (Ixodes scapularis or Ixodes pacificus) could also be a rising drawback. 

Traditionally, Lyme illness was regarded as a drawback within the wooded Northeastern area of the US. Last 12 months, nevertheless, studies began displaying that Lyme disease is a growing problem in most components of the nation, together with California and even city areas.

Dr. James Marvel, an emergency medication physician at Stanford Health Care and wilderness medication professional, has researched the contributing components to the unfold of Lyme illness within the US. In an interview with CNET, he mentioned that knowledge over the previous few many years exhibits that Lyme illness has “blossomed” in a variety of US states and counties, notably within the Northeast. 

“There’s some suspicion that local weather variables are contributing to it, particularly within the context of world warming,” so the setting could also be extra favorable for ticks, Marvel mentioned. However, ticks have a two-year life cycle, he mentioned, which makes it troublesome to observe. 

“It’s not so simple as saying, ‘One sizzling day means there’s going to be extra ticks,'” he defined.

Other components, like folks increasing building into wooded, tick-filled environments, might also be contributing to a rise in incidents of Lyme illness, Marvel mentioned. Dr. Andres Bran, an infectious illness specialist on the University of Missouri Health Care, mentioned in a 2021 CNET interview that the pandemic could have led extra folks open air and prompted them to have interaction in actions that might expose them to tick bites, resembling climbing. 

“You’re seeing a shift towards going out so as to be socially distant,” Bran mentioned. 

If caught early sufficient, Lyme illness may be handled, however failing to obtain a correct analysis and remedy on time can lead to lasting sickness. There are assist teams and online forums crammed with individuals who stay with Lyme illness, and an International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society devoted to enhancing the medical and scientific communities’ understanding of Lyme illness — together with remedies for many who proceed to endure.

Here’s what to find out about Lyme illness, and how to shield your self.

Tick safety 101

Being open air will increase your threat of coming into contact with all facets of nature, together with ticks. But if you reside in a wooded space or are out in nature a lot, and particularly if you reside in a state where Lyme disease is more common, it is essential to shield your self towards tick bites. 

While Lyme illness can have an effect on anybody at any age, it is likely to be extra widespread in children age 5 to 14 and adults age 45 to 64, in accordance to ILADS.

A family walking in the woods

Ticks are most lively within the spring and summer season months.


“Ticks do not fly or leap like fleas or something,” Marvel says. “The solely means they’ll get onto a human is thru direct contact.” They do that by ready on the fringe of a blade of grass, tall reed or one thing related, he says, and then latch on when one thing brushes towards them.

Tick publicity can occur at any time, however ticks are most lively within the spring and summer season, or April to September, in accordance to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To test your self for ticks on the finish of a day spent open air, the CDC recommends paying shut consideration to these locations in your physique: underneath your arms, your ears, your stomach button, between your legs, your hair, your waist and the again of your knees. You also needs to examine your pets and gear, as ticks could make it into your private home by climbing onto a pet, backpack or clothes, the CDC says.

To keep out of attain of ticks, keep away from areas with excessive grass or brush, stick to the middle of trails and put on clothes that covers your pores and skin as a lot as doable. You may also treat your clothes with permethrin, an insecticide, or use insect repellent. Bran says to apply the repellent each 4 to six hours, and discover one which has a 30 to 35% focus of DEET. The sprays with a decrease focus of DEET work, he says, however not as properly. Bran additionally advises towards blends of sunscreen and insect repellent as a result of they don’t seem to be as efficient.

“You ought to apply your sunscreen earlier than the repellent, and then use no matter product you’ve got out there as a repellent,” he says.

Read extraIt’s Tick Season. This Easy Trick Removes Them Fast, No Tweezers Needed

What to do if you discover a tick 

Depending on the world, wherever from lower than 1% to more than 50% of ticks carry Lyme illness, in accordance to Johns Hopkins Medicine. If you discover a tick in your physique, you must take away it. ILADS recommends contacting your physician instantly if you’ve got been bitten by a black-legged tick, earlier than signs of Lyme illness seem (extra on that under). 

According to Bran, Lyme an infection could also be prevented if the tick chunk occurred inside 72 hours of you beginning remedy.

Marvel says one of the best ways to take away a tick is to use tweezers and “grasp the tick” as shut to the bottom as doable, which is shut to the tick’s head, then firmly “pull outward with light traction.” (Expect your pores and skin to make a “tent.”) 

A small black tick in the palm of a hand

Not all ticks carry Lyme illness. 

Judita Juknele/EyeEm/Getty

ILADS recommends saving the tick in a container with a lid or a ziplock bag. This permits you to ship it in for testing or to get affirmation by your physician.

How lengthy does an contaminated tick want to be connected to move on Lyme illness? Expert recommendation varies (CDC says 36 to 48 hours is often needed for an infection, whereas ILADS says some circumstances could develop in underneath 24 hours.) 

But the earlier you notice and take away the tick, the higher.

Read extraTick Season Is Back, and That’s Bad News for Your Pets. What to Do

Symptoms of Lyme illness

When contaminated by a Lyme disease-carrying tick, folks have flulike and nonspecific signs, together with headache, muscle aches, fatigue, fever, swollen lymph nodes and muscle aches, Bran says. 

If left untreated, Lyme illness could cause neurological problems resembling reminiscence loss, musculoskeletal and peripheral nerve ache. 

Many sufferers — as many as 80%, per the CDC — will develop a rash about three to 30 days after an contaminated tick chunk. The erythema migrans rash related to Lyme illness is popularly described as a bull’s-eye, with a purple contaminated circle that clears because it spreads, although lower than 20% of Lyme rashes really seem like a bull’s-eye, in accordance to ILADS. Photos of rashes in different shapes and kinds will also be discovered on the CDC’s Lyme disease rashes web page. 

It’s essential to be aware that a totally different bacteria carried by black-legged ticks causes an sickness that is similar to Lyme disease, but it surely doesn’t trigger a rash typically.

If you do have that telltale rash, that is thought of a “dwelling run” analysis, Bran mentioned, and a dose of the antibiotic Doxycycline is used to deal with the illness. “If you’ve got the rash, you do not want any costly testing,” Bran added. “You want Doxycycline.”

A curly-legged dark tick with a red body

Ixodes ricinus or “castor bean” ticks like this one may also carry Lyme illness. Castor bean ticks are present in Europe, Russia, North Africa and Scandinavia, in accordance to the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. 

©Santiago Urquijo/Getty

Tests could also be wanted to decide whether or not or not somebody has Lyme illness, together with a blood test that detects antibodies for it. The drawback with that, Marvel mentioned, is that antibodies can take a whereas to present up in a blood take a look at — which additionally could contribute to underreported circumstances of Lyme illness.

“Lyme illness as a entire is a tough analysis,” Marvel mentioned. “I feel it will get trickier the additional you get out from the unique tick chunk or potential publicity.”

There’s no vaccine for Lyme illness at the moment out there. According to the CDC, the Lyme illness vaccine as soon as available on the market for a few years was discontinued by its maker due to “insufficient consumer demand.” 

Some vaccines for Lyme illness, together with one from Yale researchers that deploys mRNA technology, are being thought of. 

Biotech corporations Valneva and Pfizer announced positive results from scientific trials on their vaccine in February.


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Long-term Lyme illness

Many circumstances of Lyme illness may be cured with a course of antibiotics. Some folks, nevertheless, could develop lasting signs after a Lyme an infection, together with ache, fatigue, problem pondering, psychological well being points and different signs that intervene with day by day life. The CDC refers to sickness that lasts longer than six months after remedy as Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome. The company says some specialists imagine the micro organism that causes Lyme illness can set off an autoimmune response, leading to signs that “final properly after the an infection itself is gone.” There can be some research that means the micro organism that causes Lyme illness may keep alive within the physique after preliminary remedy.

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, some sufferers have related signs to PTLDS, however no report of a Lyme an infection; typically that is referred to as Chronic Lyme Disease. However, the NIH says, “the shortage of a clearly outlined scientific definition” of CLD has led many specialists within the area to keep away from utilizing that identify altogether. But this does not imply the experiences of individuals residing with signs after Lyme illness aren’t actual — in a single study from 2013, 36% of sufferers identified with Lyme at an early stage developed PTLDS signs. 

If you assume you’ve got Lyme illness however have not been identified, ILADS affords a provider search of specialists who deal with the illness.

The info contained on this article is for academic and informational functions solely and is just not meant as well being or medical recommendation. Always seek the advice of a doctor or different certified well being supplier concerning any questions you will have about a medical situation or well being targets.

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