What to do if you are bitten by a tick...
Prompt, careful tick removal is very important in not causing accidental transmission of bacteria from the tick to the host.
Tick removal instructions can be found here.
SAVE THE TICK!
Put the tick in a ziplock bag with a moist cottonball or papertowl. You can seal the bag up with tape, just to be cautious.
There are many tick testing labs available, but in our opinion, www.Ticknology.org is the most affordable at just $25.
Please visit their website or call for more information.
DO I NEED TO HAVE ANTIBIOTIC THERAPY FOR LYME DISEASE?
Not all ticks carry infection. We know that the longer the tick is attached the higher the risk of disease transmission from an infected tick, though some other tick borne diseases may be transmitted earlier than Lyme disease. Even as soon as 10 minutes.
Obvious engorgement of the tick indicates a sufficiently long attachment for infection to happen, but some engorgement can occur before it is visible to the naked eye. Less than 24 hours attachment can be a lower risk attachment time, but it is not always known how long the tick has been attached.
Please find the most current recommended antibiotic Lyme treatment protocol here: http://www.ilads.org/lyme/treatment-guideline.php
Was the tick removed easily with all identifiable parts intact?
Squeezing or damaging the tick body, or annoying the tick with applied substances increases the risk of bacterial transmission, and may increase the need for treatment. Leaving mouth parts in the wound does not increase bacterial transmission, but may cause a local infection. Ideally, you would like to have a live, active tick after removal.
IS THERE A RASH?
When there is a single, small, eraser sized red area at the site of the tick bite in the first 24 hours, this usually indicates a local reaction to the tick bite and is not considered an Erythema Migrans, or bulls-eye rash. If there is any other kind of rash, draw an ink line around the rash and check in the following days to see if the rash increases beyond the borders of the line. The hallmark rash of Lyme disease is a red, expanding rash.
Remember to take photos of your rash! This will be very helpful to your doctor and future healthcare.
If there is such a rash present, this IS Lyme disease and must be treated with a full course of antibiotic therapy.
This is what the CDC considers a positive Erythema Migrams "Lyme Rash": https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/signs_symptoms/rashes.html
A LYME RASH DOES NOT HAVE TO RESEMBLE A CLASSIC BULLS-EYE, AND IS ONLY PRESENT IN A FRACTION OF INFECTED PERSONS.
SHOULD I GET TESTED FOR LYME DISEASE?
Test results for Lyme disease are unlikely to be positive until about 4 weeks AFTER the known tick bite.
It takes our bodies that long to mount a measurable antibody response.
There are problems with our current 2 tier testing methods, but the Western Blot (WB) tends to be more reliable than the ELISA. The WB was developed for surveillance purposes, but is now used for diagnosis in many instances.
If you are symptomatic, but not testing CDC positive, and unable to get any relief, you should continue to explore the issues surrounding tests and disease. Approximately 50% of individuals with well-characterized Lyme disease may have a negative test.
Please read the latest statement from the CDC regarding Lyme Disease testing inaccuracies: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/cdc-advises-multiple-lyme-disease-tests-tick-bite-48364357
SHOULD I TEST THE TICK?
Testing a tick by PCR is more reliable that other methods. If the tick tests positive it does not necessarily mean you have acquired the disease, but it may heighten your vigilance if you are taking the wait and watch approach.
Free tick testing is available at Bay Area Lyme Foundation, but wait times for results can vary.
www.Ticknology.org is another option with test results emailed to you within a couple of days for only $25.
CAN I JUST "WATCH AND WAIT"?
Watch and wait to evaluate for symptoms has been a realistic option in the past, but If you and your doctor do choose to watch and wait, you must be attentive not only to the development of a rash, but also to the subtle and variable symptoms that can occur and be ready to treat aggressively if they do.
IS SHORT DOSE OF DOXYCYLINE THE ANSWER?
Choosing to treat patients with one dose of Doxycyline on tick bite as recommended by the IDSA Clinical Practice Guidelines for certain tick bites is becoming very common, and may be being applied to situations for which it was not recommended, and may be very dangerous.
The recommendation for this treatment came from a single study with insufficient follow up on patients who received this treatment. Dr. Elizabeth Maloney has written a paper to this protocol which may be helpful to the provider who is recommending this very short treatment, Challenge to the Recommendation on the Prophylaxis of Lyme Disease. In short, the one dose of Doxycycline may prevent an antibody response, and may prevent the rash from appearing, but may not prevent disease dissemination. Opting for watch and wait may be the better choice.
DOES DOXYCYLINE TREAT ALL TICK DISEASE?
NO. Doxy can treat many common tick diseases, but not all that are present in Arkansas.
WHAT IF I AM TOLD THAT I HAVE "TICK FEVER"?
"Tick Fever" is not a disease. It is a slang term for tickborne illness.
For example, how we may call a facial tissue "Kleenex", or a soda a "coke".
"Tick Fever" could be referring to ANY of the many tickborne diseases in Arkansas, and it is important to find out specifically which one(s) you are infected with.
PLEASE CONTACT AR TICKBORNE ILLNESS FOR A REFERRAL TO A LYME LITERALTE MEDICAL DOCTOR NEAR YOU.