With spring finally here and summer right around the corner, days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and, unfortunately, tick bites are on the rise. While the ticks themselves can pose large health issues when they carry infections like Lyme or Powassan disease, there are ways to prevent complications.
The best way to avoid transmission of a tick-borne illness is to prevent a tick bite in the first place. Walking in the center of trails, using repellents and performing a full body check are the best ways to prevent a tick bite from occurring or causing harm. Bathe or shower after coming in from the outdoors to wash away any ticks that have not yet bitten. Should you find a tick on yourself or a loved one, immediately remove it by grasping the tick gently as close to the skin’s surface as possible with fine-point tweezers and pulling backwards firmly but gently on the head of the tick. If you check yourself thoroughly each day, you will decrease your chances of infection with a tick-borne illness.
In some cases, tick bites will cause Lyme disease, which is a bacterial infection that results in a salmon-colored rash, fatigue, chills, headaches, swollen lymph nodes, muscle tenderness and joint pain. Lyme disease is rarely transmitted when a tick has been attached to the skin less than 48 hours. When Lyme is treated in the early stages, the illness typically has a short recovery time and poses no long-term issues.
Powassan disease is a viral infection that occurs 1-4 weeks after the initial tick bite. Symptoms of Powassan include fever, headache, vomiting and generalized weakness. The disease can lead to infections of the brain lining or within the brain itself. With a 5-10 percent mortality rate, the disease has no known cure leaving only treatment options for the symptoms of the disease.
To learn more about ways to prevent and treat tick bites this summer, watch Five Star Regional Medical Director Dr. LouAnne Giangreco on WSYR’s Bridge Street. If you or someone you know has any concerns after being bitten by a tick, contact the nearest Five Star Urgent Care location to be seen by one of our medical professionals.