Watch for ticks as you enjoy the great outdoors

By NATASHA WITHERS, D.O. — Medical Director of Primary Care Services, Porter Medical Center
ADDISON COUNTY — Flowers are in bloom, the sun is out and temperatures are rising, a recipe for enjoying the outdoors. However, with outdoor activities come ticks. I know for myself, every time I take our lab outside for a walk, he comes home crawling with ticks. Luckily he is yellow and we can easily see the ticks and remove them, but we don’t always catch them all. We have found them crawling on us, our furniture, and even on our indoor cat. I am sure you all have similar experiences. So, what do you do if you find the tick on you?
Stay calm and follow these simple steps. Remove the tick as soon as it is discovered. It is best to remove it as close as you can to the skin. You can use many different tools, I prefer the spoon that has a slit for the tick to slide in. This simple tool is almost fool proof. After the tick is removed, clean the area with soap and water or alcohol. If the tick is not a deer tick no need for Lyme disease prevention. If the tick is a deer tick and has been attached for more than 36 hours — these ticks are usually engorged — then contact your primary care provider to discuss an antibiotic to prevent Lyme disease. The antibiotic must be started within 72 hours from when the tick was removed.
If you do not meet the criteria, then monitor for any concerning symptoms such as a rash, fever/chills, or any new aches or pains. If you develop any symptoms you should consult your primary care provider.
The other common question that comes up, is tick testing. The CDC does not recommend testing of ticks for a variety of reasons, mainly the testing is unreliable — a positive test does not definitively lead to infection in the human that was bit, and a negative test may provide false reassurance.
The best advice is try to avoid the tick bite altogether by wearing long protective clothing and/or repellant.  Be vigilant about checking animals for ticks and removing them promptly.
Stay calm and carry on. Enjoy the nice weather and be well informed.

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