UNDERSTANDING TICKS AND LYME DISEASE
You may come into contact with ticks during outdoor activities around your home like gardening or when walking through leaf litter or near shrubs. Because everyone in New Hampshire is at risk of being bitten by a tick, it’s important to know where to expect ticks, how to remove them, and the signs to seek medical help if bitten.
There are many types of ticks in New Hampshire. Deer ticks are the type that carries Lyme disease and are tiny, smaller than American Dog ticks. The immature, or “nymph” stage of the deer tick is the size of a poppy seed, and the mature tick is about the size of a sesame seed. Any tick should be removed from your skin, but only deer ticks carry Lyme disease.
If you find a tick on your skin, remove the tick when first seen.
1. To remove the tick, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick close to your skin.
2. With a steady motion, pull the body of the tick away from your skin.
3. Clean the bite and your hands carefully with soap and water or an alcohol cleanser.
Avoid crushing the tick’s body.
Do not use petroleum jelly, a hot match, or nail polish to remove a tick.
WHEN SHOULD I GET MEDICAL ATTENTION?
If you develop a rash, fever, exhaustion, or joint and muscle aches within several weeks of removing a tick or spending time in a tick-infested area, see your healthcare provider. Be sure to mention your recent tick bite and when it happened, or that you’ve spent time in places where ticks may live. Other reasons to seek medical attention include:
- If you find a tick attached to you, or your child, and you think it may be a deer tick, and may have been attached for more than 24 hours.
- If you develop any of the symptoms of Lyme disease.
Mid-State offers tick removal and prevention treatment after a tick bite. Call for assistance at 603-536-4000.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is an illness caused by bacteria carried by the deer tick, also called a black-legged tick. Other ticks in New Hampshire, like the American dog tick, do NOT carry Lyme disease. In order for you to get Lyme disease, an infected deer tick must be attached to you for more than 24 hours, possibly up to 72 hours. Not all deer ticks are infected with Lyme disease. Lyme Disease is effectively treated with antibiotics.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of early Lyme disease may start from 3-30 days after a bite from an infected tick, and vary from person to person, and may include fever, fatigue, aches and pains, headache, and stiff neck.
Some people with early Lyme disease develop a rash 3-30 days after a tick bite. This may start as one or more small red circles, which expand over several days, and may become lighter around the center, forming a ring or “bullseye”. Not every rash looks typical, and some people with Lyme never get a rash.
Later stages of Lyme disease may cause pain and swelling in a large joint, like a knee, numbness and weakness to one side of your face, or memory problems and confusion. It may also cause heart problems.
Is there a test for Lyme Disease?
Yes, but it may take four our more weeks after an infected tick bite for the infection to show up in your blood. A positive Lyme blood test would only be a part of your health care provider’s decision about whether you need treatment.
How to prevent Lyme disease?
- Wearing tick-repellent clothing, tucking long pants into socks, having long sleeves, using insect repellent, and staying to the center of paths, is the best way for people to prevent tick bites when they venture outdoors.
- The best way to protect yourself and your family from ticks is to:
– Prevent them from being on your body,
– Inspect yourself, your children, and pets for ticks after being outside
– Remove any tick you find.
- For detailed information about tick prevention and control, see Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Avoiding Ticks. Detailed information for outdoor workers can be found via the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) at NIOSH Safety and Health Topic: Tick-Borne Diseases. Learn more about how to PREVENT tick bites.