Beware of Ticks


Detecting a Tick Bite Early May Prevent Lyme Disease


By Carol Harvey, registered nurse, Memorial Hospital, certified in infection control


With spring and warm weather just around the comer, most of us will begin spending more time outdoors.  When you return indoors, especially if you were in a wooded area, it is important to check your body for ticks.


The bite is small and usually not painful and may easily go unnoticed.  In most cases, the tick simply draws your blood for nourishment and drops off after two to four days.

If you notice a tick on your body, remove it promptly.  Removal on the first day of the bite will reduce the chance of infection. Use either a tick-removing device or small, fine-point tweezers.  Do not squeeze the tick's body; grasp it where its mouth enters the skin and tug gently, but firmly and repeatedly, until it releases its hold.  The barbed mouth of a tick will not let go easily, so take your time and be patient.  Do not kill the tick before it has been removed!

Some tick bites cause Lyme Disease if the tick is infected with spirochetes.  About 50% of deer ticks carry the spirochete and a bite does not always result in Lyme Disease.  Deer ticks are small and hard to notice.  A young deer tick may be as small as a poppy seed, while an adult may be the size of a sesame seed.



1.    Be aware of the tick's habitats - tall grass bushes and woods.


2.    When exposed to ticks, wear appropriate clothing.  For example, a hat, a tucked-in shirt with a snug collar and cuffs, long pants tucked into socks and snug-fitting shoes.  The use of tick repellents and insecticides may be helpful.


For Pets

Remove any loose or embedded ticks from your pets; use tick-control products that your veterinarian recommends.



1.    Monitor yourself and your children immediately after coming indoors.  Inspect clothes, undress and check the entire body for ticks.  Remove any attached ticks (as described above).


2.    If you suspect a bite, save the tick in a covered, alcohol-filled jar with the date and location of the bite.  Your physician may find this information and the tick specimen helpful for diagnosis.  Watch the bite area for signs of a rash.  Go to your physician immediately if you notice signs of a rash.



1.    If you've had a bite and the rash or other symptoms, see your physician.


2.    If medicine is prescribed, follow the instructions carefully.  Lyme Disease is treatable.