Tick Identification Card compliments of Boehringer Ingleheim
You hear about Lyme disease and maybe even Rocky Mountain Spotted Tick disease. Those are two of the most common diseases transmitted by ticks. But there are dozens more. Too many diseases to mention here. You can read all the details at sites such as CDC.gov or nih.gov. Suffice it to say, you want to avoid a tick bite.
Most of us love the outdoors. Sometimes, the outdoors doesn’t love us back. Ticks are everywhere we want to be: the woods, where we hike, hunt or camp. Just about anywhere there are grasses for them to cling to while waiting for the unsuspecting victim to walk by. Ticks catch a ride as you brush against the grass. Ticks are not in trees and they don’t fly. Thank goodness for that! We would really be in a tick infested mess if they did.
Here’s the good news about ticks, if you can believe there is good news about ticks. If you find and remove a tick within 36 hours of attachment, it is unlikely to transmit a disease. That’s not to say it won’t happen, but chances are very good you are free and clear. That’s why it is so important that everyone does daily full body tick checks when exposed to tick infested areas.
What To Do If You Find An Embedded Tick?
Forget what you heard about how to burn, splash, kill, or otherwise disturb an embedded tick. Don’t apply gasoline, heat (more likely to burn yourself), Vaseline or anything else to the tick. All that does is upset the tick and make it vomit. Then you really are at risk of getting one of those dreaded tick diseases. Instead, simply grasp the tick with tweezers and gently pull it out. Now you can douse it with gasoline and burn it (just kidding). Safer to wrap it in a small piece of paper towel and set it on fire. That should do the trick. Be sure to wash the area with soap and water afterwards.
If you believe the tick was embedded more than 36 hours, watch for signs of illness. Most of the tick-borne diseases start with either one or more of the following signs: generally feeling bad, also called malaise, headache, fever, and/or a rash. Contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible and let that person know you had a tick bite. Early treatment means a more successful recovery.
Who Gets Treated, Who Doesn’t
Don’t pressure your healthcare provider for antibiotics for every tick bite. Antibiotics are not always necessary since not every bite results in illness. However, if you live in an area with a lot of cases of tick-borne diseases, your provider may go ahead with treatment even if you don’t have symptoms. Remember, your healthcare provider will follow local health department and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines to determine if you need treatment.
If you want to know more about which ticks are in your area, the diseases they cause, and prevention measures, go to:
Tick Bite/Prevention. Centers for Disease Control. Last revised January 10, 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/tickbornediseases/tick-bites-prevention.html
Trends In Tick-borne Diseases. 2016 Health and Human Services Joint Webinar. Centers for Disease Control. https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/trends.html
What has been your experience with ticks?