Ticks have one focus and one focus only: find a host and feed. I have people emailing me photos or calling me and asking, “What kind of tick is this?” or they say “I took a tick off of me but it was a teeny, tiny one so I’m ok, right?” “What should I do now?”
There are four life stages for a tick: Adult females lay eggs, eggs hatch into larva, larva turn into nymphs (tiny ticks) and as they feed, tiny ticks grow into adult ticks. No matter the stage, removing the tick is imperative as even the nymphs can transmit tick-borne diseases as they feed. Transmission of tick-borne disease can occur in as little as 15-minute attachment time. Removing them, they may break into pieces. That is ok. Get it all out, treat the bite site and send in the tick to be tested. Do not leave any parts in your body. Doing so acts like a cork in a bottle and traps in any bacteria and toxins you’ve been exposed.
Once you remove the tick, get it tested!
Residents of Maine: Send the tick(s) into the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Tick Lab in Orono.
Non-residents: Submit to Tickreport.com or Ticknology.org (all tick testing information can be found on our website www.mldse.org under the Tick ID/Tick Testing tab). Submission instructions are easy and in a few business days, you will receive an email report with information about your tick: It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have that disease. But it will give you a starting point, knowing what you’ve been exposed to, should you become symptomatic.
Note: The symptomology between Lyme and tick-borne diseases and COVID-19 can be confusing. There is a symptom checklist our website that can help you determine your risk assessment.
While you wait
Clean bite site with soap and water and apply bentonite clay to remove any residual toxins. Topical Benadryl gel to reduce swelling or itchiness. Ice packs will reduce swelling to allow removal of remaining pieces. (Homeopathic) Ledum pellets under the tongue will boost immune system while you wait for test results (safe for adults and children). These products can be found in natural food stores where supplements are sold.
Prevention is key to staying tick-free. Do not become a statistic!
Real time tick-borne disease date (Jan. 1-June 21)*
Lyme Disease=236, Anaplasmosis=147, Babesia=8
*I do not normally give my opinion in my column, but the low numbers should not be confused with tick reduction. Quite the opposite. We have been so consumed with the coronavirus, quarantining at home and social distancing that when we have gotten outside, many have forgotten to use repellents. And with testing, many have been turned away because their symptoms do not meet testing criteria for COVID-19, and many have not gone to their PCPs because of COVID-19. Believe me ~ the ticks are still active, and I am hearing from many about tick encounters!
Note: Doctors and hospitals cannot test the ticks in their offices, they do not have the right equipment and therefore, have no way of determining what, if any, pathogens the ticks might be carrying.