In recent years, the population of ticks has increased on a worldwide scale. This means that you are more likely than ever to find an unwanted passenger attached to your skin after spending time outdoors. Aside from being gross, ticks feeding on your blood can also be dangerous. These parasites are carriers of numerous types of disease, and the most common culprit is Lyme disease.
If you spent time outside or noticed tick bites on your skin recently, it is important to be on the look out for any signs or symptoms of disease. The earlier Lyme disease is caught, the better. Here are some tips for spotting Lyme disease from ticks from our team at ABC Home & Commercial Services.
What do ticks look like?
The first step to determining whether or not you might have contracted a disease from a tick is affirming that a tick definitely did bite you. There are over 900 species of ticks, but all of them have some commonalities. Ticks are typically brown or black with flat bodies and no wings. Adult ticks have eight legs, while larvae have six. The most common ticks to carry Lyme disease are deer ticks, which have brown bodies and black legs.
What is Lyme disease?
Ticks can easily transmit bacteria since they feed on blood from all sorts of mammals. If they become infected with a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi or Borrelia mayonii, they can transmit Lyme Disease to humans. The tick usually has to be attached to your skin for 36-48 hours in order for it to transmit the disease. Lyme disease is not believed to be contagious through contact with people or animals or through food. Early symptoms of the disease are similar to the flu, but long-term symptoms can be catastrophic if left untreated. Joint pain, heart palpitations, and paralysis in the face can all be long-term effects of Lyme disease.
Spotting Lyme Disease from Ticks
Lyme disease can easily be confused with the flu because the symptoms are similar. Early symptoms include:
- Muscle and joint aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
In 70-80% of Lyme disease cases, a circular rash called an Erythema migrans (EM) rash will also be present at the site of the tick bite. The rash is usually not itchy or painful, but it might feel warm to the touch. It appears 3-30 days after the infection and spreads outward from the site in a ring, reaching 12 inches or more.
If Lyme disease goes untreated for a long period of time, symptoms can become much more noticeable. Later symptoms of Lyme disease include:
- Severe headaches
- Neck stiffness
- More EM rashes on other areas of the body
- Arthritis with joint pain and swelling
- Facial palsy (loss of muscle tone and control in the face)
- Heart palpitations
- Dizziness or shortness of breath
- Nerve pain or inflammation in the brain or spinal cord
- Shooting pains, tingling, or numbness in hands and feet
- Short term memory problems
If you notice any flu-like symptoms after spending time outside this summer, even if you don’t see a rash on your skin, check with your doctor about Lyme disease. If you plan to spend time outdoors in areas where ticks live and thrive, be sure to wear long pants and socks to protect yourself. If you think your yard could have a tick infestation, call ABC to schedule pest control services. It is always better to be safe than sorry where ticks are concerned.
For pest infestations in your home, count on ABC Home & Commercial Services. We have your summer pest solutions.