Help! I found a tick on me! Am I going to get Lyme Disease?

deer tick versus dog tick

I have an indoor-outdoor dog. Well, he seems to think he’s an indoor dog who should have full run of the house and that the couch is his own personal domain. We beg to differ on that point…. Anyway, when taking him for walks he likes to put his nose to the ground and check out everything which means he is often walking through tall grass. And yes, along the way he is likely to pick up a tick or two. We’ve found a couple on both him and unfortunately also in the house. My husband, who also thinks the cough is his own personal domain, has found a couple of ticks on himself. (Now, he’s trying to sit in my tick-free chair – but that’s not going to happen!)

Anyway, that got me to wondering about Lyme disease. What should you do if you’ve been bit by a tick?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that Lyme disease is spread through the bite of infected ticks. In Ohio, this is through the blacklegged tick more commonly known as a deer tick. Deer ticks are tiny. An adult tick is about the size of a sesame seed, while an immature tick is closer to a poppy seed and very difficult to see. These immature ticks are the ones most likely to transmit the disease as they are difficult to see. Dog ticks, the ones we’ve had in our house, do not transmit Lyme disease (In the image on the right, the top row shows a deer tick from nymph stage to one that is engorged, while the bottom row shows a dog tick.)
Ticks can attach to any part of the body, but are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp. A tick must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before the disease is transmitted.

If you find a tick on yourself, after you have finished panicking, get a pair of tweezers. Grasp the tick as close the skin’s surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure until you have removed the tick. Thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, iodine, or soap and water.

Early symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • Red, expanding rash called erythema migrams (EM), kind of looks like a bulls-eye
  • Fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes

If you had a tick bite, live in an area known for Lyme Disease, or have recently travelled to such an area and you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention! Make sure you tell your doctor that you have had a recent tick bite. Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics which should allow you to recover rapidly and completely.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

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