The most common ticks that feast on humans in the United States are the Brown Dog tick, the Lone Star tick and the Blacklegged tick. They’re joined by the Groundhog tick, Gulf Coast tick, Rocky Mountain Wood tick, Soft tick and Western Blacklegged tick in making up the nine species of ticks found across the country.
Lyme disease is one of the more common of the approximately 16 types of tick-borne diseases. Ninety-five percent of Lyme disease cases are reported from 14 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The disease, whose incubation period is anywhere from three to 30 days, causes flu-like symptoms and sometimes presents itself with a circular rash resembling a classic bulls-eye. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “During the localized (early) stage of illness, Lyme disease may be diagnosed clinically in patients who present with an EM (circular and expanding) rash. Serologic tests may be insensitive at this stage. During disseminated disease, however, serologic tests should be positive.” Disseminated disease is a term signifying stage-2 Lyme disease where the disease is now creating joint, arthritis and other more advanced symptoms.
You Found a Tick. Now What?
Immediate removal is key. If possible, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Avoid folklore remedies such as using nail polish, petroleum jelly, a lighted match or heat to make the tick detach from the skin.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouthparts with clean tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth parts easily, leave them alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, iodine scrub or soap and water.
- Make a note of the bite area or, if practical for the bite location, circle it with a pen and watch the area closely for signs of redness. Monitor how you feel, and if in doubt contact your physician for prophylactic measures.
Tip of the week: Ticks love high grasses, and in Florida the summer months are prevalent for “tick seeds” or tiny tick larvae looking for a blood meal. Notice ticks on your clothing more easily by wearing light colors.
Calendar reminder: The 38th-annual Ocean Reef Medical Center Foundation “Fun-Raiser” is March 17 and 18. Check the Annual Fun-Raiser page for details.