Ticks and Lyme Disease

Adult deer tick, Ixodes scapularis.
Adult deer tick, Ixodes scapularis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Deer ticks are a member of the arachnid family. They move about the ground slowly, or settle on tall vegetation and wait patiently for a warm-blooded animal to pass by so they can attach themselves.  About the size of a sesame seed; deer ticks will crawl about on a mammal (often unnoticed) searching for a good place to attach itself. Once attached, the deer tick will suck blood and swell up to the size of a raisin.

Some Tips on Avoiding or Dealing with Ticks

  • Ticks are easier to spot on light colored clothing.
  • Do not walk in tall grass, woods, or dune with bare legs.
  • Long pants and a long sleeved shirt will delay a tick from finding a good spot to get attached. Closed footwear and wearing your pants tucked into your socks offers further protection.
  • Stay on groomed paths if possible.
  • Use an insect repellent that has DEET. Apply it to your skin and outer clothing.  Avoid your eyes and mouth, as well as cuts and scrapes.  Please note that the use of DEET may carry its own set of risks.
  • Put a tick and flea collar on your pet and check pets for ticks periodically.
  • Search your body well for ticks daily.  Pay special attention to areas such as groin, scalp and armpits.  Use a mirror to check parts of your body that you can’t see directly, or ask somebody to help.

On average, the deer tick may remain for up to 48 hours before falling off, and during this time it can transmit the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

Lyme Disease is not life threatening, but it can be very weakening if left untreated.

Lyme Disease’s Symptoms

Its symptoms progress in 3 stages.

First Stage Symptoms

These symptoms may appear within a month to 3 months of the tick bite. It is possible not to experience any of these symptoms but still be affected by Lyme disease. If these symptoms do appear, they will usually go away on their own… but more serious problems will develop later.

  • Headache, fever, fatigue, nausea, stiff neck, muscle aches, and other flu like symptoms
  • English: Erythematous rash in the pattern of a...
    English: Erythematous rash in the pattern of a “bull’s-eye” from Lyme disease (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    A rash may appear where the tick bite was, or somewhere else on the body. The circular or oblong rash may increase in size and have well-defined margins with central clearing, giving it a characteristic “bulls-eye” appearance.  It begins as a small, red, raised area that expands in size, sometimes reaching 20 inches or more in diameter.The rash may or may not burn or itch.

Second Stage Symptoms

Several weeks to several months after the tick bite, a person infected with Lyme disease will most likely experience heart problems and/or nervous system disorders.

Third Stage Symptoms

Several months to a year or more later, a person will likely suffer a recurrent attack of swelling; pain in large joints, and even more sever neurological problems.

Lyme Disease Treatment

One of the problems about Lyme disease is that the symptoms are often easily confused with other disorders. However, it is most easy to diagnose during the first stage of symptoms, and this is the best time to treat with antibiotics.

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