TickSmart safety bulletin for July

By Samantha Murray

You’ve just found a tick!! Certainly, you should pull it off. But first, don’t panic or do anything rash. It’s important to remove a tick properly…and then save the tick for identification, riskiness assessment, and possible testing for the presence of infection. Read on…because you’re going to want to get this right. Your physical and mental health could be at stake!

Here are 3 reasons that your tick bite may NOT result in Lyme disease:

  • The tick is not a blacklegged (deer) tick. Only blacklegged ticks carry and transmit the germ causing Lyme disease.
  • The tick is a blacklegged tick, but the tick is not infected with the germ causing Lyme disease. About 25% of nymph blacklegged ticks and about 50% of adult ticks are That means that the rest of the ticks you might encounter are not infected.
  • The tick was not attached and feeding long enough. It generally takes longer than 24-36 hrs for infected blacklegged ticks to transmit an infectious dose of Lyme bacteria.

If you need help with your tick identification, or with assessing how long the tick has been attached, just be sure to take a clear picture of the tick after removing it (put it on a white background and be sure to have it facing top side up) and then save the tick in a sealed ziplock bag or other container. Send your picture to TickSpotters NG, http://bit.ly/tickspotters-ng, and hold onto the tick until you hear back (usually 24-36 hrs).

On the subject of rashes, it’s important to know when a rash may be the tell-tale bullseye rash of Lyme disease as well as when it’s not. In a survey of skin rashes that either were or weren’t diagnosed Lyme disease, one third of respondents to an online survey misidentified a picture of a localized reaction with the tick still attached (left) as being a Lyme disease rash. Rashes with ticks still attached are not indicators of Lyme disease. That usually solid, dime to quarter-sized red rash is an allergic response of your body to components of tick saliva. Lyme rashes, also called Erythema migrans is an expanding solid or bullseye rash (right) that may grow out of a tick bite but usually 3-10 days after the tick is gone.

tick bites on person


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