Timely Health Notions from Judy Kohn: What to do with Tick Bites


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If the tick was not attached then remove and kill it.

If attached determine how long it has been attached (best guess). It is the saliva and anticoagulant it exchanges with your tissues and blood that carry diseases. If tick is attached less than a couple of hours, that probably has not happened.

If the tick has been on you more than 6-8 hours—this is not really known—then you’d better decide to do something. Remove tick properly so as not to leave the head or parts in you. I clean the site with hand sanitizer scrubbing lightly. Then I apply Bacitracin (an Rx I have always on hand) and a BandAid to kill germs locally if there). Then I decide to take one 100 milligram capsule of Doxycycline (if I have it) only once. Don’t take if you are allergic to Tetracycline or Doxycycline.

All of the diseases the ticks carry can make you sick and some stay living in your body. These can be treated with a simple antibiotic, tetracycline. We now use Doxycycline for embedded ticks or if there is a bullet (red target around the site) then remove it with tweezers at the head. Some people get a dime sized rash over back and chest or everywhere that may itch. We’re all different.

If a tick has been on me longer, say around 24 hours (you will probably find it in hidden places because it itches or hurts) then I’m in for a five day course of Doxycycline. Get the antibiotic into my blood stream to kill the transmitted Lyme vector there. You do not want it to get into your tissues (muscle, skin, organs, brain) because you can no longer easily kill It there. 

Then you will have to be prescribed Doxy for two weeks or even a month with secondary symptoms like a rash or fever, muscle aches, headache stiff neck and lethargy. Some of these symptoms are central nervous system signs and you most get rid of these by whatever it takes. 

Ticks can carry up to four different diseases, and some can make you very sick; some can ultimately disable you or kill you. Powassen disease is supposedly not here. But one of the Stillman’s had Powassen and was extremely sick for a long time until it was finally identified. We do not know enough medically and as Public Health to match the threat to our health. Let’s get cracking! I’ll be durned if I’m going down to Lyme disease.

Also I think and have been confirmed by consulting doctors—one who studied under Dr. Bergdorferi for whom the variant disease critter was named—that you can have general arthralgia that lingers on. And boy do I have that! Only we call it osteoarthritis or old age.  I go so far as to think these critters from tick bites live in my joints or as plaque on my valves and arteries, but you decide for yourself what Lyme disease is. We haven’t detailed the science yet. 

And that is an original reason I ran for the board of Health—to focus on Lyme disease. The other reason was because we all are at risk without a hospital or ER or Ambulance Service that is rapid, since tissue dies after four plus minutes without blood circulation due to heart stopping or a clot stopping flow.

So that’s a little bit. Get a prescription if you can from your primary doctor for prophylactic Doxycycline. They will balk. They want to see signs of tick disease. But that means it has already entered your system. Prevention is worth a pound of cure—have a plan to stop Lyme disease. Avoiding bites - prevention is your best choice for now.

You will get through this; wear protective clothes—NOT SHORTS—if you’re going out in the grass and woods. Pride goeth before a fall and tick bites.

We want to hear from you! The Hardwick Board of Health wants to understand how people feel about tick bites as we work to launch an educational campaign to prevent illness from bites. Taking this survey will help you and your community by allowing the Board of Health to better understand ways to serve the needs of our community.