Ticks, Lyme disease, and YOU

Ticks, Lyme disease, and YOU

You are probably thinking this is a strange title for a blog, but it is that time of year again when ticks can be a problem for humans, particularly in long grass and wooded areas. Even our dogs are prime tick targets, so it is a good idea to check on them after a walk through long grass or a wooded area.

So what do ‘Ticks’ look like and how do we know if it is or not?

Ticks resemble little spiders in many respects and can be difficult to detect since they are approximately the size of a sesame seed (1-3mm) and reddish-brown in colour. However, if they become connected to you and begin feeding on you, they can grow to the size of a garden pea. They sit on trees and shrubs, waiting for a host to pass by before dropping on you or your pet and beginning to feed, unaware that you have been bitten until later.

Of course, being bitten by one of these ticks raises another health concern: you may contract ‘Lyme disease,’ and most people will not notice anything until they develop the distinctive bullseye rash.

How do we remove one

Before you begin looking for the ‘tweezers,’ have them removed by a medical practitioner or use a tick removal device. Using tweezers, there is a risk of squeezing the tick or leaving the tick’s head in place, which might quickly lead to an infection; therefore, use the proper equipment to remove it.

When using a tick removal tool, place it under the tick and rotate it 360 degrees to remove the tick completely without leaving the jaws behind. tick removal tool

With the 360˚ revolution, the tick is lifted up and away, leaving nothing behind.

Once the tick has been removed, apply antiseptic lotion to the bite. Store the tick in a container with the date of bite so that if you develop Lyme disease symptoms within a few weeks, it can be tested.

How NOT to remove one

It is always preferable to remove it with the appropriate tool or have a healthcare professional do it for you.

Tools are quite inexpensive, and you should avoid using chemicals or lotions to kill them, as well as attempting to burn them away.

Using tweezers should also be avoided because they may leave some ticks behind and cause an infection.

What is Lyme disease?

If a tick bites an infected animal carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi), the tick spreads the disease to other animals and humans.

Generally, if the bite goes undiscovered for more than 24 hours, you are more likely to become infected, and because it is so small, you may not even realise it.

Bites are not painful, making them difficult to find if you have one connected to you.

How is Lyme Disease treated?

If the infection is moderate, a visit to your GP and a course of antibiotics are generally enough to treat it.

If the infection is severe, intravenous antibiotics may be administered at the hospital while you are monitored.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Early symptoms

  • You may get a ‘Bulls eye’ (known aserythema migrans) but sometimes this is not present in every case.
  • Fatigue
  • Muscular pain
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Fever and chills
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea

Hence getting medical help as soon as early symptoms occur rather than waiting till symptoms get much worse.

Do you want to learn more about this?

Lyme Disease UK  

informative website on the removal of the tick

NHS inform

Early and late symptoms of Lyme disease.

We also cover these bites in our Paediatric first aid courses and in our First aid at work courses too.

Both of these courses are available from our centre in Rugby too.

How can we avoid getting bitten?

Wear long trousers and socks when walking through woodland or long grass; check your pet(s) if you have taken them for a stroll through woods or long grass; and invest in a removal tool that is reasonably cheap and widely accessible.

Check your pet on a frequent basis, as you could be the ticks’ next meal.

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