Although Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of a tick, (See http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/transmission/index.html) knowledge of any given tick bite is not helpful to predicting whether or not you may have Lyme disease: the majority of individuals that contract Lyme disease will not remember the tick bite. Also, only 2% of tick bites result in Lyme disease. Late spring and early summer are the highest risk season for Lyme disease, when the nymphal stage of the ticks emerge. Adults ticks are present year round and can be feeding any time when temperature exceed 40 degrees. Although both genders and all ages are susceptible, Lyme disease is most common among boys aged 5-19 and adults 30 or older.
If you think you may have Lyme disease,
it is important to consult your health care provider
The prognosis for recovery is best when Lyme disease is diagnosed and treated in its earliest phase. But remember, treatment doesn’t make you immune; you can get Lyme again if another infected tick bites you.
If you or a loved one is bitten, remove the tick promptly. Here’s how:
If you are bitten by a tick, a small red bump may appear in a few days to a week, usually at the site of the bite
— often in the groin, belt area or behind the knee. This bump may feel warm and tender when touched. If this tick bite has transmitted Lyme disease
the redness may expand over the next weeks and form a round or oval red rash, usually bigger than 5 centimeters in size.
It may resemble the classic bull's eye, with a red ring surrounding a clear area and a red center.
More often the rash lesion is uniformly red or reddish-blue, is minimally tender and minimally itchy (much less itchy than poison ivy).
This rash, called erythema migrans, is a hallmark of Lyme disease and appears in about 70-80% of infected people.
- Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis made by a doctor or nurse by examining the patient
- Acute Lyme disease is not a laboratory diagnosis; a negative Lyme blood test does not exclude Lyme disease in the first few weeks of the illness.
- 20% of people have a flu-like illness and NO rash.
- Fever, aches, and abrupt severe fatigue can be the main symptoms of acute Lyme.
- Lyme disease is different from respiratory “cold”.
- A runny nose and prominent cough are NOT symptoms of Lyme disease.
If you have a tick bite, watch for an expanding red rash or lesion at the site of the tick bite or an unexplained feverish, achy, fatiguing illness within 1 to 4 weeks after the tick bite. If this doesn’t happen, you are probably among the 98% of people who don’t develop Lyme disease after a tick bite. If you are concerned about any of these findings, take a picture of the rash and contact your physician.
If you are bitten by a tick and develop the rash or symptoms of Lyme disease — especially if you live or vacation where Lyme is prevalent, contact your doctor immediately. Treatment is most effective if begun early. Although only a small number of tick bites lead to Lyme disease: the longer the tick remains attached to your skin, the greater your risk of getting the disease.
Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis made by a doctor or nurse examining the patient. Early Lyme is not a laboratory diagnosis: a negative Lyme blood test doesn’t rule out Lyme in the first few weeks of the illness. Also, 20% of people have no rash, only a “flu like” illness. Fever, aches and abrupt severe fatigue can be the main symptoms of acute Lyme disease. Lyme is different from a respiratory “cold” and does not cause a runny nose or a prominent cough.
Tick bite reactions are small and do not get bigger over several days. If you have a tick bite, watch the site for signs of a growing red rash in the next 1 - 3 weeks. Small, red reactions less than 1-2” in size (the size of a dime) are common do not represent Lyme disease. These are tick-bite reactions, often confused with the rash of Lyme disease. With a tick-bite reaction, the red area does not expand over 24 to 48 hours. Small reactions at the bite site can last days to weeks.
The earliest stage of Lyme disease occurs at the site of the tick bite. If the rash is Lyme, it will get bigger over days or weeks and will not fade over the next few days. Only 2% of tick bites result in Lyme disease. A Lyme rash occurs at the site of the tick bite in 80% of people who have early Lyme disease. The incubation period from a tick bite to the development of a rash is 3-30 days (usually 3-10 days).
The Lyme rash is red and round or oval and is called erythema migrans. It may have the distinctive bull’s-eye appearance. Often, the rash is uniformly red and usually more than 2” across - often as large as 6-8”. It is sometimes confused with a spider bite.
Small, red areas about the size of a dime are common after tick bites. They are not Lyme disease.
With a non-Lyme tick bite reaction, the surrounding redness does not expand over 2 to 4 days.
These small reactions from a tick bite can last from several days to weeks.