While avoiding contact with ticks is the only way to prevent contracting a tick-borne disease it is not a reason to avoid outdoor activities. Taking steps to protect yourself from being attractive to ticks is one of the first lines of defense.
- Wear light colored long pants, tucked into socks when outside. This makes seeing the ticks easier and prevents them from crawling up your legs.
- Stay on clear paths when in the woods.
- Change your clothes immediately when you get home and put the clothes you were wearing in the dryer for 30 minutes.
- Most importantly, perform daily tick checks!
What should you do if you find a tick on you?
Save it!! Testing can be done on ticks to see if they are carriers of Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses (co-infections). If you’re not sure exactly how to remove it, this video shows very clearly how to remove a tick the right way:
Once you pull off the tick, place it inside a sealed zip-lock type plastic bag with a damp (not wet) paper towel. Do not soak in bleach, alcohol or preservative. The tick can be even months old and still be appropriate for testing.
There are a number of different labs that will perform tick testing. You can send the tick to a lab directly and do not need a doctor’s order. We use TickReport.com. You can place the order on their site by clicking the “Test A Tick” button. Complete the requested information, choose a test package (we recommend the comprehensive package), provide payment, and then send the tick as instructed. The prices range from $50 to $200.00 depending on the number of tests that you would like done. The results from this lab are received within 3 business days via secure email. Once you receive the results, you can share the information with your physician to guide your treatment.
If you have a known tick bite, do not wait for the results to contact your doctor; the sooner you are treated the better. Adjustments in treatment protocols can be changed if needed once you get the results back.
The importance of testing the tick…
- Early treatment can be key in preventing chronic Lyme disease;
- Not everyone presents with the classic “bulls eye rash” even though they have contracted Lyme or other co-infections;
- Knowing the tick-borne illness that was contracted, instead of assuming, can guide the treatment; and,
- Antibiotics are not benign, taking them when not needed or for extended periods can have long term consequences.
– Nan Kinder, RN