HELLO! MY NAME IS TICK...
WHAT ARE TICKS?
Ticks are close relatives of mites, spiders and scorpions.
WHAT HAPPENS IF A TICK BITES YOU?
When an infected tick bites a human, the bacteria transfer from the tick to the humans bloodstream.
The bite is normally painless. It doesn't itch or hurt; Ticks eventually fall off on their own after sucking blood for 3 to 6 days.
Ticks may be the size of a poppy seed and hidden in areas you do not see, such as your back, under arms, pubic area, or breasts. Therefore ticks may go unnoticed for a few days, or never be seen, making it difficult for most people to trace the origin or the time of onset of the infection.
Ticks can transmit Lyme and numerous other diseases in one single feeding.
WHAT IF I NEVER SAW THE TICK OR FELT THE BITE?
Ticks have a numbing agent in their saliva and they often feed in places where they are not easily detected, such as in your hair--you may have been bit and not even realized.
Review the Symptoms Worksheet to determine whether you may have Lyme or a co-infection.
DO ALL TICKS CARRY DISEASE?
No, only a small percent and of course a higher percent in regions where Lyme is prevalent.
But without testing the tick itself, you may not be able to tell if the tick was infected, especially if you do not have the typical Bulls-Eye Rash. Some signs may be: fever, flu or rash occurring during the following two weeks or the bite starts looking infected.
WHICH TICKS CARRY LYME DISEASE?
Many types of ticks can carry Lyme.
The three ticks most commonly associated with Lyme Disease are deer ticks in the eastern and central U.S., the black-legged tick in the western U.S. and the Lone Star Tick.
WHAT ANIMALS CARRY TICKS?
Rats, Mice, Birds, Raccons, Deer, Cats and Dogs are animals that commonly carry ticks.
HOW DO TICKS TRANSMIT LYME?
WHAT ARE THE 4 STAGES OF A TICK LIFE CYCLE?
Egg: Adult female lays up 20,000 eggs. Eggs are laid in the soil or leaf litter.
Larvae: Eggs hatch as larva. They look the size of a pin head or tiny seed. They must quickly find a host to take a blood meal. Those that survive move into the nymph stage.
Nymph: They feed on a host to develop into an adult tick. Some ticks have been known to live for over 20 years and they can live for a very long time without food. They have hard shells making them difficult to destroy.
Adult: Mate on a host where blood is readily available.
HOW IS THE LIFE CYCLE OF A TICK RELATED TO LYME?
Bb is hitched to the life cycle of its tick vector.
Over the course of a life span that lasts at least two years, Ixodes ticks must take a blood meal from a vertebrate host on three separate occasions, dropping off the host after each meal.
Tiny larval ticks hatch out on the forest floor in summer and latch onto passing hosts; because the larva waits for a host (“quests”) close to the ground, it can attach to an animal of any size, from a rodent, to a bird, to a deer. The blood from this first host will fuel the larva’s metamorphosis to the next, nymphal life stage.
Nymphal ticks, no larger than a poppy seed, must take another blood meal before molting into adult form. Adult ticks drink blood from a third and final host in order to reproduce. Nymphs and adults sit higher on the vegetation to quest, so they can attach only to larger animals; this is why deer are so important for maintaining tick populations, according to Sarah Randolph, a parasite ecologist at Oxford University.
After molting to the nymphal stage, infected ticks feed on a broad range of animals, including rodents, which become a new reservoir perpetuating the cycle. After the nymphs molt to the adult stage, they exclusively feed on larger mammals, which are often not competent hosts for B. burgdorferi.
The spirochetes are rarely, if ever, transmitted trans-ovarially, so the larval and nymphal feedings are crucial to maintaining the spirochete. Both nymphs and adults occasionally feed on humans, but the small size of the nymphs makes them difficult to detect and, hence, more likely to feed long enough to transmit the spirochete and cause Lyme disease.
AT WHAT STAGE CAN TICKS TRANSMIT LYME?
From the time ticks are nymphs they are able to transmit Lyme.
Adult ticks are large enough to be noticed by any humans they bite within the 24 hours or so it takes to pass along an infection. But nymphs are not as easily detected, and Lyme disease most often arises when a person is bitten by an infected nymph.
Since Bb is not passed from mother ticks to their offspring, every larva comes into the world uninfected. The natural transmission cycle begins anew when a larval tick feeds on blood from an infected host, typically a mouse, chipmunk, or shrew. Once the larva develops successfully into a nymph, it will seek a new host, putting any passing humans at risk.
HOW SHOULD I REMOVE A TICK?
If you find a tick attached to your skin, there's no need to panic. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively.
Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers outline of tick.
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 is to remove the tick as quickly as possible--not waiting for it to detach.
WHERE CAN I GET A TICK TESTED?
Ticks can often be sent to labs for testing, but treatment should not be delayed.
Some veterinarians may send the tick(s) away for testing. Ticks can also be tested for a price. Treatment should not be delayed while waiting for any test results. A false-negative result could affect your medical doctors decision to treat you.
WHERE ARE TICKS MOST PREVALENT?
In 2013, 95% of confirmed Lyme disease cases were reported from 14 states: