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Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock...The Countdown has Begun! IM of CNY Can Help with Acute Tick Bites

by Beth Aust, RN

It is ALWAYS tick season, however, ticks become more active between March and May through November. Warmer weather is coming, and we want to enjoy it, so it is important to be aware of what to do if a tick bite should happen to you or to a loved one.

A common practice when someone gets a tick bite is to have the tick tested for Lyme disease (borrelia). However, this poses some challenges, and patients can end up not receiving the treatment they need to prevent tickborne infections. First, public health departments only test ticks for borrelia, but not for the other bacteria that can infect ticks (co-infections). Additionally, results often take days to weeks to report, and the patient misses an important window to initiate treatment.

The majority of the patients we see at IM of CNY have been chronically ill with debilitating symptoms for months to years. If tickborne infections are not properly diagnosed or treated early, people can develop severe symptoms that persist. Initiating treatment right after a tick bite prevents bacteria from spreading to joints, organs, the central nervous system, and elsewhere. Remember, the best way to treat Lyme disease is to prevent it!

A single 200mg dose of doxycycline has proven to NOT be sufficient for Lyme disease prophylaxis, and treatment for 20 days or less with antibiotics in someone with a “bullseye” rash has a high failure rate. In addition, studies have shown ticks can carry multiple bacteria, some which could require different antibiotics, so you can see why up to 50% of people treated following a tick bite go on to develop chronic symptoms.

Common Misconceptions About Contracting Lyme Disease:

· Ticks need to be attached for 24-36 hours to transmit Lyme disease – this claim has not been substantiated, and evidence has shown that ticks can transmit infections in as little as a few hours.

· You need to develop a bullseye rash to have Lyme disease – although a bullseye rash is diagnostic of Lyme disease, few people develop this rash that go on to develop Lyme disease. In one study, only 17% of people who developed Lyme disease had a bullseye rash.

If Lyme disease is not diagnosed and treated early, the spirochetes can spread, and may go into hiding in different parts of the body. Weeks, months, or even years later, patients may develop problems with the brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, heart and circulation, digestion, reproductive system, and the skin. Symptoms may disappear even without treatment, and different symptoms may appear at different times.

Doctors Heidi Puc and Amy Lazzarini at Integrative Medicine of Central New York offer ACUTE TICK BITE CONSULTS to evaluate you and provide recommendations for testing and treatment based on your individual assessment. They can also perform tick removal in the office and provide information on where to have the tick tested if you so choose. Learn more about Dr. Puc and Dr. Lazzarini here:, or to schedule an appointment, call: (315) 741-5774.

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