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What Is the Connection Between a Tick Bite and Lyme Disease?

A tick.
Tick bites should be closely monitored for a rash that may indicate lyme disease.
When deer ticks bite they can spread neurotoxins to humans.
Deer ticks can carry Lyme disease, and the insects are the most likely way to become infected by the disease.
Article Details
  • Written By: Matt Brady
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Most people who get Lyme disease contract it from tick bites. The deer tick is the most well known for transmitting Lyme disease, though it may also be contracted from the western black-legged tick. Those who believe they may have gotten a tick bite and Lyme disease can look for flu-like symptoms, joint pain, and muscle problems accompanied by numbness.

Lyme disease is primarily borne by ticks. Spending time in forested, grassy areas—where ticks are most likely to be found—elevates the risk for contracting the disease. Those with a tick bite and Lyme disease usually make a full recovery with the aid of antibiotics.

Lyme disease normally causes flu-like symptoms, such as fever, aches, chills, and fatigue. A rash may appear around the area where the individual was bitten; rash from a tick bite and Lyme disease is often called a bulls-eye rash for its shape and color resembling a bulls-eye. In some cases, the disease can cause neurological problems, such as inflamed membranes that cause muscle weakness, numbness, and even temporary facial paralysis. A few individuals also experience temporary heart problems, hepatitis, and eye inflammation.

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There are many precautions one can take to avoid tick bite and Lyme disease while outdoors. Wearing enclosed shoes makes it more difficult for ticks to crawl up and find easy access to skin. Wearing light-colored clothing that ticks can't blend in with also makes it easier to detect ticks before they're able to bite. Wearing a hat and tying back long hair can make it harder for ticks to bite the scalp. If hair is exposed, one should frequently check and tussle it to shake out any ticks. Individuals should also avoid sitting down on the ground or against stone walls, where ticks can often be found.

After time spend outdoors, it's wise to remove clothing and thoroughly check for ticks. Ticks like to crawl up and hide out in bodily crevices, such as the armpits, groin, and backs of the knees. The back of the neck is another common site for bites.

Any ticks that are found on the skin can be easily removed with a pair of tweezers. Don't use any petroleum jelly or matches, as some folk remedies recommend—calmly pulling the tick straight outward will suffice. One can then kill the tick by placing it in a container with alcohol. The bite should then be disinfected. Individuals should carefully monitor any bites for rash development and call a doctor if symptoms of Lyme disease occur.

A tick bite doesn't necessarily mean one will contract Lyme disease. For one, not all ticks are carriers of the disease. Secondly, quickly detecting and removing a tick within 48 hours of being bitten greatly reduces the odds of contracting Lyme disease, even if the tick is a carrier; it takes time for a tick to burrow in and transmit the disease.

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