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How Likely Are You to Contract Lyme Disease from a Tick Bite?

Whether you’re hiking in the woods or you live in an area that’s known for Lyme disease, it’s best to be prepared with an accurate understanding of how Lyme disease transfers to humans. And if you find a tick, you’ll want to know how to properly remove it.

How Quickly Can You Contract Lyme Disease?

There’s a common misbelief that a deer tick has to be attached for 36 – 48 hours to transmit Lyme disease. However, researchers studied animal models and discovered that transmission can occur in under 16 hours. These researchers also argued that no minimum attachment time for transmission had ever been established and Tick disease transmission can occur in as little as 15 minutes!

What Is the Window for Contracting Lyme Disease?

Nymph deer ticks, the ticks responsible for 95 percent of the Lyme disease out there, only feed

for four days. Research has shown that ticks with Lyme spirochetes living in their guts spread infection when these spirochetes swim into their hosts during feeding. However, there is also evidence of ticks with Lyme spirochetes in their salivary glands. When that happens, transmission could happen shortly after the initial bite. To better understand this, we need to look at how a

tick feeds.

How a Tick Bites You

A tick doesn’t bite in the traditional sense. It starts off by injecting you with an anesthetic. The anesthetic is necessary as it prevents you from feeling the tick begin the slow process of burrowing into you. Then the tick uses its external mouthparts to dig away flesh as it works its way into the skin. As it digs, another part of its mouth known as the hypostome follows until the skin has been pierced. The hypostome contains barbs along its entire surface that help secure the tick in place as it feeds.

Ticks also inject an anticoagulant, essentially a blood thinner, to keep the blood flowing so that they can consume their blood meal. The anticoagulant comes out of the salivary glands. And if there are spirochetes in their salivary glands, then it’s theoretically possible for near instantaneous transmission to occur.

How to Properly Remove a Tick

If you’ve been bitten by a tick, it’s important to follow the proper removal procedure to reduce the risk of contracting Lyme disease:

1. Find a pair of very sharp tweezers with a needle tip

2. Grab the tick as close to the skin as possible

3. Lift up from the skin and hold

4. Wait until the tick releases

Be aware that the tick could take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes to release. It’s important to be patient so that the tick naturally unhooks its mouthparts. When removing a tick, Do NOT: Twist-Force the tick out-Yank it out suddenly-Apply salves or essential oils.

Most alternatives methods for tick removal aren’t backed by solid science and could actually increase your chances of contracting Lyme disease from an infected tick. These methods tend to irritate the tick. Irritated ticks use “jet propulsion” through rapid regurgitation to quickly remove their mouthparts. As the tick expels its blood meal to escape, it can transmit infected blood back into your bloodstream and increase the likelihood of infection.

Avoid crushing the tick’s body. Do not be alarmed if the tick’s mouthparts remain in the skin. Once the mouthparts are removed from the rest of the tick, it is believed it can no longer transmit the Lyme disease bacteria. If you accidentally crush the tick, clean your skin with soap and warm water or alcohol.

Don’t use petroleum jelly, a hot match or any other products to remove a tick. This will only increase the likelihood of transmission of Lyme disease and/or a co-infection

Once we’ve removed the tick and cleaned the area, we have a few prophylaxis options.

A “bull’s eye” appearance occurs in only 10-20% of Lyme patients. Therefore basing your treatment on the presence of a rash, or a positive blood test, (which is notoriosly innacurate), or the duration of a tick attachment of 24-36 hours-- will lead to many persistent resistant Tick Borne diseases for many. Its better to treat early and avoid issues.

David Dornfeld, DO, has been practicing Family Medicine for more than 30 years, with extensive experience covering the full spectrum of clinical family medicine, including children beyond the age of two. His experience encompasses all spectrums of family medicine, spinal manipulation, chelation therapy, IV infusion therapy and hyperbaric therapies. Focusing on whole body and alternative therapy techniques. He has been considered a (LLMD) LYME Literate Medical Doctor form his training from ILADS for many years. His Family Wellness Center is in Middletown, NJ. For more information visit Soon to add a New Physician- Andrew Marino MD.

This article appears in the May 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings Magazine Monmouth Ocean edition. Click here to subscribe, thanks :)


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