1. I've been bitten by a tick. What should I do?
2. I was bitten by a tick and I still have it. Where can I take it to be tested?
3. How can I protect my property against ticks?
4. How many cases of Lyme disease were reported in my state?
I've been bitten by a tick. What should I do?
There is no right and wrong way to handle a known tick bite. There are differing points of view but no hard evidence at this point to support either approach. You as a health consumer will need to work with your own doctor regarding this matter.
Some physicans and many Lyme groups support a prophylactic approach. This is where the patient is given treatment in case the tick did transmit the infection into the victim's blood stream. For specific drugs, dosages, and length of treatment, please see Dr Burrascano's protocol for diagnosing and treating Lyme at: http://guidelines.LymeNet.org/ . This protocol appeared in the 1997 volume of Conn's Current Therapy a well respected, peer reviewed medical journal. Keep in mind that this is not the more popular approach so you will probably meet resistance from your doctor. The major concern to this approach is overexposure to antibiotics. While this is a valid argument, there seem to be many inconsitencies. Doctors still give antibiotics for things like the flu which will not help and for acne which is merely a cosmetic concern. In addition, the benefits of prophylaxis has not been proven.
The second approach is to wait and see. Not all ticks carry the disease. In addition, not every bite results in transmission of the bacteria that causes Lyme. The patient who chooses to wait and see needs to look out for any type of skin eruption. The classic rash is a bulls-eye type rash. Keep in mind that not all rashes will appear at the site of the bite and may not resemble the target like rashes shown in those pictures. Some patients will get no rash and others may have many satellite rashes. The rash phase can last only a few hours so photographing this rash in natural light is important.
It is believed that as many as 50% may not see a rash. This group may go directly to the flu-like phase. Here the patient feels achy as if he/she is coming down with something. Other possible symptoms may be fatigue, stiffness, sleep pattern changes and a low grade fever. In young children, the only symptom may be irritability and changes in sleep habits. It may help to know that runny noses do not usually accompany early Lyme and may help to distinguish between possible Lyme and a virus. Both the rash and the flu-like phase will go away without medical treatment. This does not indicate cure. It is just a dormant phase. Failure to treat Lyme properly can result in future problems including chronic Lyme. If the bulls-eye rash develops, medical treatment is necessary.
I was bitten by a tick and I still have it. Where can I take it to be tested?
Check with your local health department first to find out if they do tick testing. Some do; others do not. If not, you can mail it to one of several reliable tick testing centers. Below is a list of several centers in the country. You need to contact each one regarding price, response time, and proper procedure for mailing. Some centers can not test if alcohol is used. Others require it before mailing.
Tick Testing Centers
North American Laboratory
New Britain, CT
New Jersey Laboratories
New Brunswick, NJ
Palo Alto, California
Tick Research Laboratory
Kingston, Rhode Island
How can I protect my property against ticks?
Whether to use chemicals on ones property is a personal decision. The risks and benefits must be weighed. Keep in mind that the effects of the most aggressive application is limited if no one else in the area takes preventive action.
Terry Shultze, epidemiologist for the New Jersey State Health Department, used granular diazinon on 5 towns in central New Jersey during a recent study. His findings showed a reduction of the tick population by 80%.
The following recommendations were developed by the Lyme Disease Coalition of New Jersey and adopted by several towns including Jackson and Livingston:
May 1-15 - Granular diazinon, sevin (carbaryl), or dursban against nymphs. If a sensitive area, liquid permethrin(4 Week Tick Killer) may be good.
July 31 - Damminix against larvae and nymphs. Will help control ticks and infection rate next year.
August 1-21 - Like May 15 against larvae and nymphs.
November 1-10 - Liquid permethrin or liquid/granular diazinon, sevin, or dursban against adults.
Whenever you use liquid sprays, apply after 10:00 or 11:00 A.M. This will expose the most questing ticks. Avoid windy days.
How many cases of Lyme disease were reported in my state?
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA, maintain a count of Lyme disease cases as reported by each state health department. These numbers rely on physicians to report the cases to their county health departments, usually via a form. Most experts consider these figures a gross underestimation of the actual count, due to lack of physician reporting and the unrealistically stringent reporting criteria. The rule of thumb is to multiply the total counts by 10.
The CDC's publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report prints a weekly count of these figures in the "Notifiable Diseases/Deaths in Selected Cities Weekly Information" section. You can see the current figures at: