Common Lyme Disease Questions
Answers from John Goldman, MD, infectious disease physician from Harrisburg.
How do you remove a tick?
: “Take tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, and simply pull. It’s possible that you will leave the tick’s head in place. It will eventually fall out. Since you’ve separated the tick’s head from its stomach, it won’t continue to expose you to Lyme Disease.”
Why should you not burn or smother the tick?
: “Unfortunately, that makes the tick stressed. When ticks get stressed, they throw up, and they throw up into you. Most of the Lyme Disease is in the tick’s gut. If you make the tick throw up, you’re probably putting more of the Lyme bacteria into you.”
When should you see a physician?
: “You should see a physician any time between April and October when you have a rash that is characteristic of Lyme – the classic bulls-eye rash, red around the edges and clear in the center. Typically these rashes aren’t painful, typically these rashes are not itchy. Lyme can present with any kind of rash, it doesn’t have to be a bulls-eye rash and Lyme can present without having a rash. People will often just get a fever, muscle-aches, maybe a headache. Any unexplained fever, especially if it goes on for a day or two during tick season, you should see your doctor.”
Why should you see a physician immediately after showing signs of Lyme?
: Lyme, if caught early, is a very easy disease to treat. You can be given a two or three-week course of anti-biotics by mouth. It’s very unlikely you’ll go on to have any of the long-term complications. Lyme if it’s caught late can be harder to diagnose, it can be harder to treat.
Is premetharin an effective way to prevent tick bites?
“I think premetharin can be effective. You can spray your clothes with it or buy premetharin impregnated clothes.
"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends permethrin as one tactic for avoiding tick bites
. It says that people can 'treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents, with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin.' ”