photo courtesy of Under Our Skinhttp://www.underourskin.com
Because of our warm climate, ticks in Georgia may be active year round. It is always important to take precautions to prevent tick bites.
50% of Lyme disease patients don't recall a tick bite.
If you plan to spend time outdoors, especially close to wooded areas, wear light colored clothing so that you may spot ticks more readily. Also wear pants and long sleeves.
Tuck your pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants so that ticks can’t crawl up inside your clothes.
Apply insect repellent to your skin and/or clothing. Always check the label for effectiveness against ticks and proper application procedures. Permethrin may be applied to clothing to ward off ticks. Again, read all labels carefully as many repellents can be harmful if applied incorrectly.
If you are in the woods, stay on a path. Do not walk through tall grasses or brush up against bushes & other foliage. Don't sit on rotten logs; ticks often like to lay their eggs inside.
When you return indoors, remove and wash your clothes immediately. If you cannot wash them, you can throw them in the dryer for 15-20 minutes to kill any ticks or put them in a plastic bag and tie it up tightly until you can wash them.
Perform a “tick check” of your entire body when you return from being outdoors. Carefully check your children and pets, as well. Remember, ticks like to hide in warm, moist areas of the body and can be the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Feeling for ticks, in addition to looking for them, is advised.
If you find a tick crawling on you, it probably has not had a chance to bite you yet. Do not touch the tick with your fingers, as tick secretions may be infectious. Use tissue to remove the tick. Some people choose to flush it or place it in a baggy and freeze it. It's very hard to crush a tick, and in doing so, you could be exposed to disease-causing agents.
Don't panic. Take care to remove a tick properly; in fact, some experts say if you don't have tweezers, it is best to leave the tick attached until you can remove it in the correct manner. Improper removal may cause the tick to "spit" any organism it could possibly be carrying into your body.
Proper tick removal is important. Remember, removing a tick improperly may increase your risk of infection.
FOR PROPER REMOVAL INSTRUCTIONS, SCROLL TO THE TOP OF THE PAGE.
So often we read the fact that ticks must remain attached for 24-36 hours to transmit Lyme disease. While studies have shown that the longer a tick is attached, the more likely it is to transmit Lyme borreliosis, it has also been shown that improper removal can play a role.
Georgia Lyme Disease Association director Liz Schmitz comments:
"Having contracted Lyme disease myself in under four hours due to improper tick removal ( I ignorantly applied a hot match to the tick ), I don't believe this important fact is stressed often enough in the medical literature. Many, many people we hear from remove ticks improperly. Thinking a tick was only attached for a few hours and therefore could not have transmitted Lyme borreliosis, without considering exactly how the tick was removed, may give patients and healthcare providers a false sense of security. Questioning patients about tick removal is crucial in evaluating whether or not to treat a tick bite case."
-tick laying eggs,CDC
Kirby C. Stafford III, Ph.D.
Vice Director, Chief Entomologist
Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven
-courtesy of CDC
Although many Lyme and tick-borne disease patients never develop a rash, if you do get a rash, take a photograph of it and consult a physician immediately.
In some cases, a small, hard, red, raised bump may remain for weeks at the tick bite site. This is usually a local reaction to the tick saliva itself and is generally not considered to be an indication that the tick may have transmitted a disease. If you have questions or if this area remains red, becomes larger, or becomes worse and/or infected, or if any other symptoms occur, promptly consult your healthcare provider.
If you do develop a rash or symptoms after a tick bite, most healthcare providers will prescribe antibiotic treatment to be certain nothing further develops.
Lyme and some other tick-borne disease tests measure your antibody response to the disease. It is highly unlikely, therefore, that a patient would test positive at the onset of the illness and/or when any rash is present, even if that patient is indeed infected, because the body has not yet had enough time to develop a detectable level of these antibodies.
Logically, since early stage testing is often unreliable, most physicians feel that providing adequate antibiotic treatment for a rash or even mild symptoms that show up after a tick bite, may help to prevent any more serious symptoms from occurring in the future.
Not all patients get a
Lyme disease rash.
Your doctor will need
to document and
report any rash
you may develop after
a tick bite.