What is Tick?
Tick is the name commonly used to describe tiny arachnids that belong to the super family Ixodoidea. They are external parasites that feed on the blood of birds and mammals and are vectors of many diseases.
Tick Borne Diseases
Ticks themselves are not harmful but their bite can contain secretions and toxins. Organisms present in the ticks’ saliva can get transferred when they bite people and this causes diseases.
Some of the diseases spread by ticks are:
- Lyme Disease (Borreliosis)
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- Tick Borne Relapsing Fever
- Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness Tularemia
- Colorado Tick Fever
- Q Fever
- Powassan Encephalitis
Tick related illnesses follow certain patterns and are more common between April and September when ticks are evolving from their larvae stage to adult stage.
Prevention of Ticks
- Avoid shrubs and grassy areas
- Avoid outdoor camping in tick season and do not go to areas where ticks thrive
- Tuck pants into socks or boots
- Wear light colored clothing as ticks can be easily seen on these and brushed off.
- Apply insect repellant generously; use brands that are specially designed to repeal ticks.
Prognosis for Tick bites
Most bites from ticks are harmless and do not cause any serious problems. If the ticks are removed early, there is less likelihood of contracting any disease. Depending on the diagnosis, prognosis can range from good to poor. It depends on the disease that was contracted and the stage of the disease when the patient came for diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms of Ticks
Tick bites are generally painless and most people do not even notice when the tick has fallen off or where it has bitten.
- Sometimes a neurotoxin which is secreted when the bite takes place can cause paralysis or muscle weakness. Once the tick is removed, the production of neurotoxin too is stopped and the person can recover quickly and completely.
- Symptoms may arise after the tick drops off and can be noticed in the form of itching, redness, burning and sometimes localized intense pain..
- The illness or disease transferred by ticks can be seen only after the passage of some days or weeks. This is the reason doctors may not suspect that ticks caused the illness. A patient has to inform the doctor about any activity in tick infested area or any tick bite.
- Flu like symptoms
- Swelling or pain in joints
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
When to Go to A Doctor
A person should seek medical care when
- The infant or adult bitten by ticks exhibits any symptoms such as lethargy, weakness, paralysis, fever, confusion, headache, numbness or rashes.
- The head or mouth parts of the tick remain in the skin or the tick is still attached to the skin and cannot be removed.
- Immunosuppressant people such as those suffering from HIV, cancer or those undergoing chemotherapy need to inform their doctor about tick bites
- Pregnant women should not take any medication for tick bites on their own and inform a doctor before doing so.
Medical Treatment for Ticks
Treatment of tick bites depends on the duration of the attachment, the type of tick that bit, the diseases which the tick can spread and the symptoms which the patient exhibits.
Antibiotic creams can be applied and local cleansing should be done. For relief of itching, a doctor may prescribe diphenhydramine (Benadryl). This compound can be administered orally or applied directly on the skin. The doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics to tackle some diseases. If the symptoms are more pronounced and significant, antibiotics may be administered through IV fluids.