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melanie81's avatar

I have a tick bite - now what?

Asked by melanie81 (792 points ) April 12th, 2009

I just got home from a weekend of camping, and found a dead tick attached to the top of my inner leg! I’m pretty sure it was in there about 24 hours, because I remember itching in that area yesterday around this time. I quickly forgot about it…no illness or rash occurred following the itching (yet).

I removed the entire tick…now what? Does a tick bite guarantee severe symptoms or illness? Can I just assume I’m okay if I feel okay?

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34 Answers

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mamabeverley's avatar

Call your Dr. in the morning about early treatment for Lyme disease. Did you save the tick? They might be able to test it.

janbb's avatar

How big a tick? Dog ticks are fairly big and usually don’t carry Lyme Disease: deer ticks that do are tiny. If you still have the tick, I believe you can bring it to your doctor for evaluation; otherwise just watch the spot and if a raised red ring form around it, get to the doctor for antibiotics and testing.

janbb's avatar

A tick bite in and of itself does not cause severe symptoms; only if the tick is a carrier of Lyme. Even if it is and you find symptoms (the raised red ring), an early course of antibiotics will treat it. I’ve had a few scares but none has developed into Lyme’s.

Darwin's avatar

I suggest you just keep an eye on it. If it simply goes away and you feel fine, then no worries. If you notice symptoms then call your doctor.

melanie81's avatar

Thanks guys! I did save the tick, fortunately. I’ll see how it pans out and call the doctor if I notice any rings or symptoms.

shilolo's avatar

Where were you camping? Lyme is just one of several tick-borne illnesses to consider.

mamabeverley's avatar

@shilolo Oh sure S. I already hate critters, now I have to worry about something other than Lyme disease???? Thx!

crisw's avatar

@mamabeverley
You bet. Rocky Mountain spotted fever, erlichiosis, babesiosis, relapsing fever…

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

it’s just not safe to go outside anymore.

Darwin's avatar

Just wait until someone lists the things mosquitoes can give you!

shilolo's avatar

@Darwin In the USA and Western Europe, very little. Everywhere else, watch out!

mamabeverley's avatar

@crisw I’ve heard of Rocky Mount. But, what is babesiosis? Sounds like something you get from a girl!!

shilolo's avatar

Babesiosis is affectionately known as North American malaria. Typically causes anemia, fever and fatigue (from the anemia).
Ehrlichiosis actually comes in several “flavors”, and can range from a mild to a life-threatening disease.

mamabeverley's avatar

@shilolo YEA Yet another reason to vacation at the Holiday Inn! If I had all that info in my head Shilolo, I would never leave the house but in a protective suit!

mamabeverley's avatar

got to love PPE!!!

Dutchess12's avatar

We get ticks all the time because we’re at the lake a lot! Just pull ‘em off. It’ll itch for a while. Just keep an eye on it for infection—and just do what you’d do for any infection—and especially for a “bullseye” appearance—that’s the hallmark for Lyme disease. Shoot, if we went to the Dr. everytime we got a tick bite we’d be broke! In fact, I’m still itching from one I got on my stomach about 3 weeks ago…

melanie81's avatar

@Dutchess12 haha…good to know! Yeah, at this point I’m just worried that if I don’t go to the doctor TODAY (impossible on a Sunday) I’ll get Lyme Disease. I would certainly rather wait and see what develops. Based on the online stuff I’ve found, it seems as though the ring even takes a few days to show up…

@shilolo yep, went camping near Santa Barbara, California. I first noticed the itch when we went on a hike yesterday afternoon, so the critter was stuck in me about 24 hours. Ew.

gailcalled's avatar

@melanie81: Was the tick engorged (filled with blood) when you removed it? Did you get all the feelers? Was it this size o or this O. Blood tests for Lyme usually are done several weeks after the bite. Keep your eyes on the site and see whether the bullseye rash appears. It shows up about 80% of the time and is an indicator of Lyme. The severe symptoms may not show up for weeks.

Preserve the tick in alcohol. I have never had the site itch. (We are the epicenter of Lyme and related diseases here in rural NYS.) My bro-in-law had a severe case of Erlichiosis and had to take antibiotics for several months. He lives only several miles from me.

Here are some tick pics

Here are the high density areas in the US.

Dutchess12's avatar

@gailcalled Well, I think Lyme is a bacterial infection. As with all infections the sooner you catch it the faster it will go away—but it’s not horrific to wait a bit. If you go to the doctor let us know what he says, K? Because I MAY not even know what I’m talking about!
—My tick bites always itch…I don’t know why

gailcalled's avatar

@Dutchess12: At present, thank heavens, I have found no ticks on me. But I have in the past as has almost everyone else here (12165.) Deer (Lyme) ticks come in several sizes – larva, nymph and male/female adult, engorged or not, embedded or not and are different than Dog ticks, which are larger and do not carry the diseases.

Read the infomation on the medical sites; mayoclinic.com or CDC.com, for example. I have taken a course of antibiotics several times to be on the safe side. My doctor keeps my Lyme tick, in its little baby food jar filled with alcohol, for “show and tell.”

melanie81's avatar

@gailcalled Thank you so much for the input. No, the tick was not engorged – was completely flat. Looks like I got the entire thing out, feelers and all. It’s about this size: O. What kind of alcohol should I keep it in? Just rubbing alcohol?

@Dutchess12 Will do!

gailcalled's avatar

Rubbing alcohol. If it was not engorged (it would have looked like a teeny translucent flappy fluid sac) and if you got out the feelers, you are fine. The bigger size usually means Dog tick. My sister pulls 50 or so of them off her two dogs every week during the season.

But keep an eye on the site for a few weeks.

Darwin's avatar

@shilolo – How about West Nile virus, Eastern Equine encephalitis, La Crosse (California) encephalitis, and St. Louis encephalitis? I also seem to get many more mosquito bites than I do tick bites, even though both are prevalent in our area. As a result I tend to stress out a bit more over these than I do Lyme Disease.

I also live in a part of the US that historically was blasted by Yellow Fever and Dengue Fever, to the point that our town almost died out twice. We were able to control the mosquitoes with DDT but then we discovered what the DDT was doing to everyone else in the ecosystem.

Of course, if you live outside of North America, you get to face malaria and filariasis (elephantiasis), too. Having lived in Venezuela, I have seen the headlines about the millions of people who suffer from malaria every year.

Then there is a concern that as our climate changes the mosquitoes that can carry malaria will spread northward.

casheroo's avatar

oh my god, this is like the damn parasite thread. seriously people, stop scaring me. i want to enjoy being outside, even if i get eaten alive by mosquitos!

shilolo's avatar

@Darwin I’m an Infectious Diseases doctor. I’ve seen three cases of West Nile, and none of the rest. They are very rare. Neither yellow fever nor dengue are prevalent in the US to any significant degree. Outside of the US, malaria is a huge problem, but so are many other vector-borne diseases.

Darwin's avatar

@shilolo – Certainly rare, but increasing in numbers, especially in the South, and of concern in my state. In fact, our state reports twice the number of cases of West Nile encephalitis as of Lyme Disease typically (even more if you count West Nile fever).

Statistics for the past 17 years are found here

And as I said, in the past Yellow Fever was a real concern in our area, twice almost destroying our town. Our state health folks keep a watchful eye out in case it should ever sneak back in, since we can no longer use DDT (for good reason).

shilolo's avatar

@Darwin Lyme is primarily a problem of Eastern seaboard states. In many states, the tick vector is not adequate to transmit lyme. Likewise, the incidence of WNV is decreasing nationwise. My point really was that we have it fairly easy in the US. Few serious zoonotic diseases that are rarely fatal, as opposed to third world countries that has so many (like malaria, yellow fever, African sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, a variety of worms, etc.)

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@casheroo,If I was to worry about all the diseases I could die from because of mosquito bites, I think I might never go outside again. But then, I have enough to worry about, so I’m going to go outside, enjoy myself, and I suggest you do the same. You know, more people die from falls in the shower than do from venomous snake bite or shark attacks. Does that mean we should stop showering?

gailcalled's avatar

@shilolo : Check the new site maps. LD is creeping to the Pacific coast, especially in OR. hot spots in Michigan, and medium spots in E. Texax and many of the southern eastern states.

gailcalled's avatar

@shilolo: Check the new site maps for LD;

It is spreading from the NE epicenters. MIld to moderate in most cases, but some hot spots in Michigan and N. Oregon.

@Evelyn’s: We all go out but no longer wade in tall grass with shorts, and we do check ourselves when we come back in. I tuck socks over pants and wear long-sleeved shirts when gardening, for example.

casheroo's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra haha, i don’t actually avoid going outside. i was exaggerating

Darwin's avatar

I built a screened porch. So there!

Dutchess12's avatar

@shilolo :) So all of the reports are simply the American Way of the media spreading infectious, groundless, unreasonable panic! I’m with you!! OH…I have a good one about “Whooping Cough” coming up

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