The northeast is known for many wonderful things. Unfortunately, it is also known for Lyme Disease, a potent bacterial infection that can often be debilitating.

tick-size-comparison-chart-afc-doctors-express-urgent-care-bronxCarried by miniscule ticks, a fraction the size of your typical dog tick, a deer tick, often carried by deer, can carry Lyme Disease, and if transmitted to humans, can be a real threat. Deer ticks can also be carried by rodents- mice, chipmunks and shrews, all of which thrive in the Bronx.

Spending more time outside also means sharing space with ticks, mosquitoes and other insects, and so arming families with the proper information to protect themselves this summer is vital.. Fun can sometimes end in tragedy- in this case a debilitating and often chronic disease- if precautions are not taken.

Some simple preventative measures should be taken when outdoors in tick-infested areas:

  • If you have a yard, make sure the grass is mown and kept short
  • Before going on a picnic, or spending time in a field with tall grasses, use a strong insect repellent containing DEET. Be careful with the concentration levels with children, however. See Deet Precautions
  • Keep your property rodent free by containing all garbage or food items tightly in enclosed bins
  • Wear enclosed shoes and light colored socks and pants when in tick infested areas

Check for deer ticks upon returning home. Examine scalps, behind ears, between fingers and toes, in private areas, and remove and wash all clothes in hot water.

If you or a family member is bitten by a deer tick, knowing when a bite requires medical attention is a must. If bitten by a tick, the best thing to do is to go to a medical provider who is knowledgeable and experienced in proper removal techniques, as it can often be difficult to know if the entire tick has been removed. Leaving any piece of a leg can lead to infection.

If you feel strongly about removing the tick yourself, take these steps:

To remove a tick:

  • Using tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
  • Gently pull the tick in a steady, upward motion.
  • Wash the area with a disinfectant.
  • When trying to remove the tick:
    • DO NOT touch the tick with your bare hands.
    • DO NOT squeeze the body of the tick as this may increase your risk of infection.
    • DO NOT put alcohol, nail polish remover or Vaseline on the tick.
    • DO NOT put a hot match or cigarette on the tick in an effort to make it “back out.”
    • DO NOT use your fingers to remove the tick.

The “Do Nots” are important and only increase the likelihood the tick will transmit Lyme disease Applying alcohol, nail polish remover, or a hot match can irritate a tick and cause it to regurgitate its gut contents into your skin. The gut contents of a tick can contain the Lyme disease-causing bacterium.

Be on the lookout for these symptoms of potential Lyme Disease:

  • A circular bulls-eye type rash, measuring about 1-2 inches around or near the bite, typically within 1-2 weeks of infection tick bite
  • Flu-like symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes,
  • fatigue, headache, muscle aches
  • and most importantly, joint pain or stiffness

It’s important to treat Lyme as soon as possible because chronic neurologic damage may occur.bulls-eye-rash-caused-by-deer-tick-

In most instances, it takes about 3-30 days for an infection to incubate and begin to appear as symptoms. It should be noted that 30% of people with Lyme disease don’t have recollection of a tick bite, as these ticks can be very tiny. Not all tick bites will turn into Lyme Disease, so immediate panic is not necessary, but precautions and safety steps are.

Early detection and attention is key. In the event of a potential case of Lyme, antibiotics can make a big impact if detected immediately. We strongly recommend being seen by your doctor or coming into our urgent care center if you are experiencing any potential signs of Lyme, especially if you know that you have been bitten by a tick.