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How to Remove a Tick to Prevent Lyme Disease

  • Date: 2009/02/16 (Rev. 2017/11/11)
  • Disabled World
  • Synopsis : To remove a tick pull it off your skin as gently as possible leaving the tick and its mouth parts intact to prevent Lyme Disease.

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If a tick is removed within 24 hours, the chances of it transmitting Lyme disease or other infections are much less because the risk of contracting Lyme disease and other infections caused by ticks increases between 24 to 72 hours after the tick attaches to the skin.

Lyme Borreliosis or Lyme Disease - An infectious disease caused by at least 3 species of bacteria belonging to the genus Borrelia. Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto is the main cause of Lyme disease in the United States, whereas Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii cause most European cases.

There are more than 200 kinds of ticks in the United States, and they are at their most active in spring and summer. It is never pleasant to have a tick on you, and they should be removed as soon as possible. The risk of developing these infections depends upon the geographic location, season of the year, type of tick, and for Lyme disease only, how long the tick was attached to the skin.

Ticks that are brown and approximately the size of a poppy seed or pencil point, are deer ticks. These can transmit Borrelia burgdorferi (the bacterium that causes Lyme disease) and a number of other tick-borne infections. Deer ticks live primarily in the northeast and mid-Atlantic region (Maine to Virginia) and in the midwest (Minnesota and Wisconsin) region of the United States, and less commonly in the western US (northern California).

The best way to remove a tick from your body is to pull it off as gently as possible, leaving the tick and its mouth parts intact. Some ticks cement their mouth parts into the skin so every effort should be made to remove the cement stuff if it does not come out with the tick.

  • Ask a friend or family member for help if you find a tick in a hard-to-reach spot.
  • Hold a pair of tweezers in one hand and grasp the tick with the tweezers close to the surface of your skin.
  • Gently but firmly pull the tick straight out, working for several seconds if necessary until it loosens and comes free.
  • Dispose of the tick and be sure to wash your hands throughly.
  • You may also want to place the tick in a small container, like a pill container, so that if you get sick you can it to your vet or doctor for identification.
  • Never try to use a match, petroleum jelly, or nail polish to remove ticks.

There is no benefit of blood testing for Lyme disease at the time of the tick bite; even people who become infected will not have a positive blood test until approximately two to six weeks after the infection develops.

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