Tick-borne diseases are diseases or illnesses that are transmitted via a tick bite. As the incidence of tick-borne illnesses increases and the geographic areas in which they are found expand, it becomes increasingly important that health workers be able to distinguish the diverse, and often overlapping, clinical presentations of these diseases.
Ticks have been found on every continent of the earth, except Antarctica. Ticks tend to be more active during warmer months, though this varies by geographic region and climate. Areas with woods, bushes, high grass, or leaf litter are likely to have more ticks.
People can limit their exposure to tick bites by wearing light-colored clothing (including pants and long sleeves), using insect repellent preferably with at least 20%–30% DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, although high use may be harmful) tucking their pant legs into their socks, checking for ticks frequently, and washing and drying their clothing (in a hot dryer).
If you are bitten by a tick it is important that, the tick/s are not covered in methylated spirits, rubbing alcohol, bi-carbonate of soda, vaseline, or burnt with a match in an attempt to remove. Such action can induce a tick to release spirochetes containing the bacteria known to cause Lyme disease into its host’s blood stream.
You can try to remove a tick by:-
- Using fine-pointed tweezers or a special tick-removing tool. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, do not try and remove it by grabbing the body. If you don’t have tweezers, protect your fingers with a tissue;
- Pull the tick straight out with steady, even pressure;
- Avoid squeezing the tick, breaking it, or allowing any blood to remain on your skin;
- Place the tick in a small plastic bag or vial with blades of grass, leaf, or moist (not wet) piece of tissue;
- Label the container with your name, date, site of bite and how long tick was attached;
- Have the tick identified and tested by a lab, health practitioner or health department;
- Wash your hands, disinfect the tweezers and bite site.
- Educate yourself about tick-borne diseases and consult a doctor to see if treatment is warranted.
Tick-borne illnesses are caused by infection with a variety of pathogens including rickettsia and other types of bacteria and viruses. Because ticks can harbor more than one disease-causing agent, patients can be infected with more than one pathogen at the same time, compounding the difficulty in diagnosis and treatment.
Our practitioners manage many patients with tick borne illnesses using the ILADS protocol and if you are seeking a more natural route we use the Byron White protocol and the Beyond Balance protocol.