Tick Attachment and Tickborne Diseases
What is the transmission time for Lyme disease?
- Transmission of Lyme disease usually starts between 24-72 hours of tick attachment.,
- In general, the longer the tick is attached the more likely it is to pass on an infection if it is carrying one.
What are the transmission times for other tickborne diseases?
- Powassan virus transmission may take as little as 15 minutes of attachment. This is documented in mice and may be different for humans.
- Anaplasmosis transmission may take less than 24 hours of attachment. This is documented in mice and may be different for humans.
- Babesiosis transmission may take less than 36 hours and increases with attachment time. This is documented in hamsters and may be different in humans.
- Borrelia miyamotoi transmission may happen within the first 24 hours of attachment. The likelihood of transmission increases with attachment time. Transmission time for Borrelia miyamotoi is documented in mice and may be different for humans.
- One tick can carry several diseases. The transmission times of multiple infectious agents carried by one tick is not yet known.
Will I be able to estimate the attachment time if I find an attached tick?
- People are not generally good at estimating attachment times.
- Transmission of infection is possible if you find an engorged tick.
What diseases can the ticks found in Maine carry?
- The deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), also known as the black-legged tick, is the primary vector of Lyme disease,, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Borrelia miyamotoi (a relapsing fever illness). Deer ticks are also a vector for Powassan virus,, a potentially deadly form of encephalitis.
- American dog ticks (Dermacentor variabilis) can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia. Ticks in Maine are not known to carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever or tularemia.
- The woodchuck tick (Ixodes cookei) can transmit Powassan virus.,
- The lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) can transmit Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii (which cause human ehrlichiosis), tularemia, and STARI. The lone star ticks are moving north and are not fully established in Maine.
Can one tick carry several diseases?
- Yes, a tick can carry and transmit multiple diseases at one time.
What are the signs and symptoms for tickborne diseases found in Maine?
- The signs and symptoms for a tickborne disease typically include flu-like symptoms like fever, headache, chills, and body pains. Flu-like symptoms especially in the summer months are a good indicator of a tickborne disease.
- Signs and symptoms for a specific tickborne disease can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/.
Which ticks can carry Lyme disease in Maine?
- Lyme disease is spread by the bite of an infected black-legged tick. That tick is Ixodes scapularis, the deer tick.
- While deer ticks can carry Lyme disease, not all deer ticks in Maine are infected. The percentage of ticks infected can vary based on geographic location.
Can I get Lyme disease by eating deer meat?
- Deer are important in the deer tick life-cycle, but deer do not get Lyme disease.
- People cannot get Lyme disease by eating deer meat. However, deer meat should always be properly cooked. Cooking deer meat properly is important to prevent other infections such as E. coli.
- Caution should be taken while hunting and dressing deer, since ticks may travel or fall off the deer and have access to you. Ticks also have access to your yard to lay eggs while dressing or hanging a deer. You can take precaution by using a permethrin treated tarp in your truck during transport of a deer and under a deer hanging in your yard.
Can Lyme disease be passed sexually?
- There is no evidence that Lyme disease is passed sexually., This was studied in hamsters and rats.
- A person cannot get infected from touching, kissing, or having sex with a person who has Lyme disease.
- There is evidence of transplacental transmission of the Borrelia burgdorferi spirochete.
How common is Erythema migrans (the red expanding rash or the classic "bull's-eye rash) in people with Lyme disease?
- This occurs in about 70-80% of cases nationally.,
- In Maine, the rash is reported in about 50% of cases. This is likely lower than the actual number since not all rashes are reported.
- This usually appears 3-30 days after a tick bite.,
- Early on, the rash of Lyme disease may appear only as a flat red circle (usually two inches or more across) without the "bull's-eye" appearance.
- The rash usually expands and then goes away. Its disappearance does not necessarily mean the infection is gone.
- Call your doctor to start treatment if you have an erythema migrans rash.
What is early localized Lyme disease?
- This develops days to weeks after becoming infected.
- You may have:
- Erythema migrans (the red expanding rash or the classic "bull's-eye" rash).,
- Flu-like symptoms, with or without the rash. These symptoms include lack of energy, headache, fever, chills, and muscle and joint pain.
- When treated with antibiotics, early Lyme disease usually resolves.
What is disseminated Lyme disease?
- This is when the bacteria that causes Lyme disease spreads throughout your body.
- This can occur within days to months after the tick bite.
- Symptoms include:
- Multiple erythema migrans rashes.,
- Nervous system involvement (cranial nerve palsies, meningitis, radiculitis, peripheral nerve involvement, encephalopathy).,
- Heart involvement (carditis, heart block).,
- Connective tissue involvement (aching muscles, joints, or peri-joint areas, and frank arthritis).,
- Eye involvement (inflammation of every part of the eye has been reported.).,
- Disseminated Lyme disease is often accompanied by "flu-like" symptoms and extreme fatigue. Joint and muscle problems are often migratory and other symptoms may come and go.
What is Chronic Lyme or Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS)?
- This is when someone has lasting symptoms of fatigue, pain, or joint and muscle aches at the time they finish treatment. Flu-like symptoms may also occur.,,
- Some people have symptoms lasting more than 6 months.,
- The exact cause is not known. Most medical experts believe that the lingering symptoms are the result of residual damage to the tissues and the immune system that occurred during the infection.
Can you get Lyme disease multiple times?
- Yes, you can get Lyme disease multiple times.
What should I do if I think I have a tickborne disease?
- Call your doctor if you think you have a tickborne disease. Tickborne diseases are diagnosed with a combination of clinical symptoms and laboratory testing.
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