Health Beat, July 6, 2014Published 5:37pm Saturday, July 5, 2014
Tick Bites/Lyme Disease
Does it seem to you that ticks are literally “falling from the tress” this spring. I know it seems that way around our house. Finding two or three ticks on your body after just cutting the grass or taking a walk through your yard is not unusual. And, actually cutting shrubs or trees, you may find even more.
At one time Lyme disease, which is spread by tick bites, was considered limited to the Northeast, Mid- Atlantic and North Central United States. It is now moved south and the Southeast is identifying more and more cases of the disease.
Ticks can attach to any part of the human body, but especially like hard to see areas such as the groin, scalp, armpits and scalp. It usually requires the tick to be attached for 36 to 48 hours for the lyme disease bacterium to be transmitted to a human. Most humans are infected by bites of immature ticks called nymphs. Nymphs are very tiny, young ticks and are very hard to see. They like to feed in the spring and summer months. Adult ticks also transmit the disease but they are usually spotted and removed before they can transmit the disease.
It is important to remove a tick as soon as it is found. They are difficult to remove. There are lots of home remedies for removing ticks. Avoid folklore remedies such as “painting “ the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal should be to remove the tick as quickly as possible—not waiting for it to detach. The Centers For Disease Control recommends using fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick: this can cause the mouth-parts of the tick to break and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the parts easily with clean tweezers, leave it and let the skin heal. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hand with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub or soap and water.
If you get a tick bite, watch for the following signs and symptoms for the next 30 days: a red, expanding rash that usually develops at the site of the bite and extends outward forming a “bulls-eye”: unusual fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches and swollen lymph nodes. Some people get a small bump or redness at the site of the tick bite that goes away in 1 to 2 days. This is not a sign that you have Lyme disease. Weeks post tick bite you may develop rashes in other areas of the body. You may experience loos of muscle tone in the face, severe headache and pain and swelling of joints. Many of these symptoms may resolve in weeks to months , even without treatment but could result in complications later on in life.
Patients treated early with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely.
If you experience a tick bite accompanied by any of the above symptoms, see your medical doctor and let him or her know you were bitten by a tick. If you develop any of the above symptoms, you may have been bitten and did not realize it or have not found the tick yet. Consult your medical provider with your concerns.
For more information; you may consult the Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov/lyme/resources/index.html
Billie Whitfield, RN, CIC is the Infection Preventionist at Vidant Beaufort Hospital.