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Ticks and Lyme Disease Including Chronic Lyme Disease

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Ticks and Lyme Disease Including Chronic Lyme Disease

Ticks 2012

This year is expected to be a big year for ticks.

These ticks can be found in all areas including your backyard.

They may also remain on clothing and crawl onto the skin.

Ticks are responsible for more diseases other than Lyme disease which is caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi- infected black leg ticks.They are a responsible for other illnesses known as babesiosis, erlichiosis, and tularemia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention.


Following information is from the CDC website 

NOTE: please check the CDC Website for the most up-to-date information on Lyme Ds.


Lyme disease transmission

In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36 hours or more for Lyme disease to be transmitted. Most humans are infected by the bites of immature ticks called nymphs. Lymphs are tiny (less than 2 mm) and difficult to see. They feed during the spring and summer months. Adult ticks can also transmit Lyme disease bacteria, but they are much larger and may be more likely to be discovered and removed before they have had time to transmit the bacteria. Adult ticks are most active during the cool months of the year.


There is no evidence that Lyme disease is transmitted from person-to-person. Although cats and dogs can get Lyme disease, there is no evidence that they spread the disease directly to their owners. However, pets can bring infected ticks into your home or yard. Consider protecting your pets, and possibly yourself, through the use of tick control products for animals. You will not get Lyme disease from eating venison or squirrel meat, but in keeping with general food safety principles meat should always should always be cooked thoroughly. Note that hunting and dressing deer or squirrel's may bring you up to close contact with infected ticks. There is no credible evidence that Lyme disease can be transmitted through air, fluid, water, or from the bites of mosquitoes, flies, fleas, or lice.


CDC note: A Lyme disease vaccine is no longer available. The vaccine manufacturer discontinued production in 2002, citing insufficient consumer demand. Protection provided by this vaccine diminishes over time. Therefore, if you received a Lyme disease vaccine before 2002, you are probably no longer protected against Lyme disease.






Preventing Tick Bites

While it is a good idea to take preventative measures against ticks year-round, be extra vigilant in warmer months (April-September) when ticks are most active.

·         Avoid direct contact with ticks

·         Avoid wooded or bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter..

·         Walk in the center of trails

·         Repel Ticks with DEET or Permethrin.

On People

·         Use repellents that contain 20% or more DEET on the exposed skin for protection that last up to several hours.

·         Always follow product instructions.

·         Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth.

·         Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and ear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents. It remains protective through several washings.

·         Pre-treated clothing is available and remains protective for up to 70 washings.


Other repellents registered by the environmental protection agency may be found at


Find and Remove Ticks from Your Body

·         Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within 2 hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks crawling on you.

·         Conduct a full-body tick check, using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the bellybutton, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.

·         Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and hats, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets,coats and day packs.

·         Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.


On Pets

·         Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites, and tickborne diseases.

·         Vaccines are not available for all the tickborne diseases the dogs can get, and they don't keep the dogs from bringing ticks into your home. For these reasons, it is important to use a tick preventative product on your dog.

·         Tick bites on dogs may be hard to detect.

·         Signs of tickborne disease may not appear for 7-21 days or longer after a tick bite, so watch your dog closely for changes in behavior or appetite if you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a tick.

·         Reduce the chances of a technical transmit disease to you or your pets:

·         Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors.

·         If you find a tick on your dog, remove it right away.

·         Vascular veterinarian to conduct a tick check in each exam.

·         Talk to your veterinarian about tickborne diseases in your area.

·         Reduced tick habitat immunity are.

·         Talk to your veterinarian about using tick preventives on your pet.


Note: Cats are extremely sensitive to a variety of chemicals.

Do not apply any insect acaricides or repellents to your cats without first consulting your veterinarian.


Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease

If you had a tick bite, live in an area known for Lyme disease or have recently traveled to an area where it occurs, and observe any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention.


Early Localized Stage (3-30 days post-tick bite)

·         Red, expanding rash called erythema migrans (EM)

·         Fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes

·         Some people may get these general symptoms in addition to an EM rash, but in others, these general symptoms may be the only evidence of infection.

·         Some people get a small bump or redness at the site of a tick bite that goes away in 1-2 days, like a mosquito bite. This is not a sign that you have Lyme disease. However, ticks can spread all the organisms that may cause a different type of rash. For example, southern tick-associated rash illness causes a rash with a very similar appearance.


Erythema Migrans (EM) or "bulls-eye" rash

·         Rash occurs at approximately 70-80% of infected persons and begins at the site of a tick bite after a delay of 3-30 days (averages about 7 days).

·         Rash gradually expands over a period of several days, and can reach up to 12 inches across.

·         Parts of the rash may clear as it enlarges, resulting in a "bulls-eye" appearance.

·         Rash usually feels warm to the touch but is rarely itchy or painful.

·         EM lesions may appear on any area of the body.


Early Disseminated Stage (Days to Weeks Post-Tick Bite)

·         Untreated, the infection may spread from the site of the bite to other parts of the body, producing an array of specific symptoms that may come and go, including:

·         Additional EM lesions in other areas of the body

·         Facial or Bell's palsy (loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face)

·         Severe headaches and neck stiffness due to meningitis (inflammation of the spinal cord)

·         Pain and swelling in the large joints (such as knees)

·         Shooting pains that may interfere with sleep

·         Heart palpitations and dizziness due to changes in heartbeat

·         Many of the symptoms will resolve over a period of weeks to months, even without treatment. However lack of treatment can result in additional complications described next.


Late Disseminated Stage (Months-to-Years Post-Tick Bite)

·         Approximately 60% sign of patients with untreated infection may begin to have intermittent bouts of arthritis, with severe joint pain and swelling. Large joints are most often affected, particularly the knees. Arthritis caused by Lyme disease manifest differently than other causes of arthritis and must be distinguished from arthralgias (pain, but not swelling, and joints).

·         Up to 5% of untreated patients may develop chronic neurologic complaints months to years after infection. These include shooting pains, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, and problems with short-term memory.


Lingering symptoms after treatment (post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome)

·         Approximately 10-20% of patients with Lyme disease have symptoms that last months to years after treatment with antibiotics.

·         These symptoms can include muscle and joint pains, cognitive defects, sleep disturbance, or fatigue.

·         The cause of these symptoms is not known, but there is no evidence of the symptoms are due to ongoing infection with Borrelia burgdorferi.

·         This condition is referred to as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.

·         There is some evidence that post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome is caused by an autoimmune response, which a person's immune system continues to respond, doing damage to the bodies tissues, even after infection has cleared.

·         Studies have shown that continuing antibiotic therapy is not helpful and can be harmful for persons with post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.


Laboratory Testing

Like blood tests from any other infectious diseases, the test for Lyme disease measures antibodies made by white blood cells in response to infection. It can take several weeks after infection for the body to produce sufficient antibodies to be detected. Therefore, patients tested during the first few weeks of illness will often test negative. In contrast, patients who have had Lyme disease for longer than 4-6 weeks, especially those with later stages of illness involving the brain or the joints, will almost always test positive. A patient who is been ill for months or years and has a negative test almost certainly does not have Lyme disease as the cause of their symptoms.



·         Patients treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely. Antibiotics commonly used for oral treatment include doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil.

·         Patients with certain neurological or cardiac forms of illness may require intravenous treatment with drugs such as ceftriaxone or penicillin.

·         Approximately 10-20% of patients (particularly those who were diagnosed later), following appropriate antibiotic treatment, may have persistent or recurrent symptoms and are considered to have post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.

·         The National Institutes of Health has funded several studies on the treatment of Lyme disease which show that most patients recover when treated with a few weeks of antibiotics taken by mouth.



For details on research into what is sometimes referred to us "chronic Lyme disease" and long-term treatment trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, visit the NIH Lyme disease website. See following and additional info sheet in left frame on my home page.