Tick Removal, Tick Bite Assessment, and Treatment
June 2020 Update: COVID-19 and Lyme Disease Symptoms
Ticks are associated with warm spring and summer days; however, ticks are active year-round, even in the Northeast. And, they can carry a range of diseases that are harmful to humans.
This summer, the global COVID-19 pandemic presents a new set of challenges for diagnosing Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses since they share many of the same symptoms, including fever, body aches, headaches, chills and general malaise.
There are some key distinguishing characteristics that can help distinguish between COVID-19 and Lyme disease or other tick-borne illnesses. Early Lyme disease, which is caused by the bite of an infected black-legged tick, is commonly associated with the classic “bulls-eye rash”. If this rash is present, it can help to diagnose Lyme disease, but not everyone gets the rash, and oftentimes the rash goes unnoticed.
Additionally, while COVID-19 typically causes symptoms associated with the respiratory system, such as coughing and shortness of breath, Lyme disease and other tick borne illnesses are not associated with these symptoms.
Awareness is a key component of preventing and treating tick-borne illnesses and COVID-19 this summer. Wearing long sleeves and long pants, using an EPA-registered repellent when outside, and always checking yourself and your children thoroughly for ticks when coming inside is the best way to prevent Lyme disease.
Lyme Disease and Tick-borne Illnesses
If you are bitten by a tick, removing the tick within 24-hours will greatly reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease. Therefore, performing daily tick checks is important so a tick can be removed before it transmits Lyme disease.
Ticks are carriers of the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease is passed to a human from the bite of an infected black-legged tick. Typically no larger than a small seed, these ticks tend to climb plants and grass, where they wait for a host. Once an animal or human passes by, the tick affixes itself to the host, so it can draw blood for nourishment. As it does, an infected tick may then transmit Borrelia burgdorferi into the host’s bloodstream.
In addition to Lyme disease, ticks have the potential to transmit other illnesses as well, including Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and a rare but dangerous pathogen dubbed the Powassan (POW) virus. These illnesses often present with similar symptoms including fever, fatigue, headache, nausea, and vomiting and require medical attention.
You can reduce your risk of being bitten by a tick and being exposed to a tick-borne illness by:
- Using insect repellent
- Wearing long sleeves
- Wearing long pants tucked into socks when walking through wooded areas
Lyme Disease Symptoms
Lyme disease causes several telltale symptoms, including:
- Joint pain
Tick Bite Evaluation and Preventative Treatment
If you’ve been bitten by a tick or suspect you’ve been bitten by a tick, it is important to visit your doctor or PhysicianOne Urgent Care as soon as possible for evaluation and treatment. PhysicianOne Urgent Care offers tick removal, tick bite or rash assessment, and preventative treatment.
With convenient hours and several center locations, PhysicianOne Urgent Care is the perfect option if you’ve been bitten by or suspect you’ve been bitten by a tick.
If you’re experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911 immediately or go to your local emergency room.