According to the Center for Disease of Control and Prevention (CDC.gov) May through July is the time of year when most tick bites occur. Those in the Mid-Atlantic area at a high risk. While there are multiple variations of ticks, not all of them cause issues. Let’s take a quick look at the most common tick-borne illnesses in this area.
- Lyme Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
The most common ticks that bite humans are the Black Legged Tick, the Lone Star Tick, the Groundhog Tick, and the Dog Tick. Many of the tick-borne illnesses present with a feeling of weakness or not feeling quite right. You may also have the chills, a fever, or find yourself having digestive issues such as nausea. You often need a blood test to diagnosis or rule out other possibilities. Laboratory testing is an important part of discovering antibodies.
- Lyme Disease– a red skin lesion that may expand to a bulls-eye type pattern (approx. 2 inches)
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever– a rash often seen on the wrist and ankles of a red and purple variation
- Babesiosis– while you won’t see a rash, you may see blood in your urine in more severe cases
- Anaplasmosis– does not present with a rash, look for common symptoms as listed above
- Ehrlichiosis– similar to the Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but presents with less frequency
How to Prevent Tick Bites
- Avoid brush and wooded areas
- Use and EPA registered tick repellent
- Wear long sleeves and pants, keep them tucked in to avoid skin contact
- Light-colored clothing will make ticks more obvious
- Treat clothing and outdoor gear with permethrin
- Check your pet for ticks
(Source: Maryland Dept of Health)
What to do if You Find a Tick
If you find a tick on yourself, you’ll want to remove it with firm, even pressure. Use a pair of tweezers and be sure to grip the tick as close to the skin as possible. Do not twist the tick, instead pull smoothly, up and out. Once the tick has been removed, you’ll want to wash both the area of the tick bite and your hands with either alcohol or soap and water.
It’s important to dispose of the tick. Don’t crush the tick. Flush it, drown it in alcohol, or seal it in a plastic bag.
Lastly, if you develop a rash or find yourself feeling weak, presenting with a rash, or feverish be sure to see your health care provider immediately. If your primary health provider is unavailable, M.D. Express Urgent Care is open 7 days a week with 6 convenient locations to remove and treat tick bites.