We have all heard of ticks before. Maybe you have heard horror stories of the terrible diseases they carry or even seen one on your pet, or worse, on yourself. But what are ticks really? And why, for an insect that doesn’t have wings, does the word “tick” carry such a buzz?
All About Ticks
A tick is a small insect proportionate to the size of an ant, and they take a physical form similar to that of a spider. They are normally black or dark in color and they are typically found outside of interior living spaces.
When a tick comes in contact with human skin, it burrows into it and acts as a parasite; the tick uses the host’s blood supply to leech the nutrients that it needs to foster its physical development. The burrowing of a tick usually causes the appearance of a small growth or lump on the skin, and almost resembles the form of a cyst or pimple.
All About Lyme Disease
Unfortunately, ticks can be carriers of a disease called Lyme disease, which is a propagative inflammatory infection disease. Ticks infected with Lyme disease carry are infected with a bacterium called Borreli burgdoferi. This bacterium is picked up by feeding on wild-life animals such as deer or rodents. After entering into the human host, they transmit this disease into the bloodstream where it starts to spread through the body.
Lyme disease occurs in three stages. The first is the early infection stage, where the pathogen first enters the system. During this stage, a common “bull’s eye rash” appears, as well as flu-like symptoms. This stage occurs 3 days to 1 week after receiving a tick bite and it is the most treatable stage. During the second and third stages of Lyme disease, the infection continues to spread to other parts of the body and can eventually cause chronic pain throughout the body, constant fatigue and neurological problems.
The symptoms of Lyme disease vary greatly from patient to patient and can resemble the symptoms of many other maladies. The diagnosis of Lyme disease in the second and third stages of the infection can be quite difficult and thus, it is important to be vigilant and proactive in the prevention and early detection of tick bites.
All about Treatment and Prevention
Because ticks tend to reside outside of interior living spaces, it is most important to check for tick bites after having been in the outdoors for prolonged periods of time, doing activities such as camping, hiking or canoeing. To check your body for ticks, have a friend or a family member run their hand along your skin and actively look and feel for any bites or bumps on your body. Be sure to check every limb and crevice of your body, including the neck, scalp, back and feet.
If you suspect that you have received a tick bite, go immediately to your healthcare practitioner or family doctor. Because Lyme disease occurs in three stages, early detection of a tick bite can prevent the progression of Lyme disease. Between three days to three weeks after receiving a tick bite, family doctors can prescribe antibiotics that can get the pathogen out of your body before the disease has the chance to progress.
It is important to note that not all ticks carry Lyme disease, so a tick bite does not inevitably cause Lyme disease. However it is still important to see your family doctor so that they can remove the tick and test the pathology of the tick to see if it can potentially cause Lyme disease.
For more information on tick safety and Lyme disease, please visit the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation’s website: https://canlyme.com/lyme-basics/