Lyme disease and those pesky ticks

Lyme disease and those pesky ticks!

Lyme disease, or Lyme borreliosis, is an infection caused by a group of spiral-shaped bacteria (spirochetes) called Borrelia burgdorferi,which are transmitted to humans following a bite from an infected tick.

The peak times for tick feeding, and so transmission of infection, are late spring/early summer. Although relatively uncommon we are located in a Lyme disease high risk area.

Diagnosing Lyme disease can sometimes be challenging. One key feature is a growing red circular bullseye rash (erythema migrans pictured), which typically appears at the site of the tick bite 7-10 days later. Other than the rash Lymes disease can cause flu-like symptoms — these may include fever, headache, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, joint pain, and muscle pain; there are no significant breathing symptoms typically  There are rarer presentations that can involve your nerves or your heart.

How to manage tick bites: If a tick is still attached to the skin, remove it using the following method:

Gently grip the tick as close to the point of attachment to the skin as possible (preferably using fine-toothed tweezers or forceps, or a tick removal device). Pull steadily upwards, away from the skin, without twisting. Take care not to crush the tick. There is a possibility that fragments of the mouthparts may be left in the skin, but these are so small that they very rarely cause any problems. Do not burn the tick off or apply petroleum jelly, alcohol, nail varnish remover, or other substances (as this may stimulate the tick to regurgitate potentially infected material into the skin, which may increase the risk of transmission of infection).

Antibiotic prophylaxis following a tick bite is not routinely recommended to prevent Lyme disease. If you are bitten by a tick and suspect Lyme disease then please call the surgery for immediate advice. The prognosis for Lyme disease however is generally good. Antibiotic treatment in early Lyme disease is highly effective.

Dr Dan Lickman
GP Two Rivers