How to treat ticks

We often feel that ticks can be found in our country all year round, even though it is not the case. I’d like to hear the opinion of a professional on the subject
We often feel that ticks can be found in our country all year round, even though it is not the case. I’d like to hear the opinion of a professional on the subject.

I. Sidorov, Verkhnedvinsk

Lyme borreliosis is an infectious disease caused by Borellia bacteria, which often becomes evident in the form of relapses of symptoms: skin, nervous system, joints and heart are mainly involved. It is also called Lyme disease, the reason for its name was the fact that the disease was first described in the city of Lyme (USA). In different regions this infection from ticks differs and varies from 10 percent to 50 percent of insects infected. It means that at least every tenth tick is a source of such infection, if not every second.

Caution is important in the forestLyme disease is diagnosed on the basis of epidemiological anamnesis (visiting the forest, marks from ticks) considering the time of the year (summer and early autumn), and also its clinical presentation: mostly the occurrence of Erythema chronicum migrans (skin reddening). After that, skin lesions, joint pain and symptoms of damage to the cardiovascular system may be noticed. We must remember that some people do not notice or remember that they have had ticks on their skin. In these cases, the presence of the clinical symptoms of the disease, and also the laboratory data has a valuable diagnostic value.

If a tick has bitten

Tick activity begins in April and continues until October. The maximum quantity of ticks is seen in the first half of summer. Ticks cannot jump. They wait for a victim, having stretched out their legs in different directions, sitting on blade of grass or on a low bush, no higher than 1 metre. Ticks are attracted by the smell of animals and people. If you touch a branch or a leg of a tick, it will grab at you and will proceed to creep upward often towards the shoulders or head, sometimes giving the false impression that the tick fell from above. The best weather for ticks is dry, sunny and warm. On cold days, with frost or rain, ticks are passive; they hide in a carpet of leaves and wait for good weather. If you have been bitten by a tick, this does not mean that you will necessarily fall ill, but it is necessary to consult a doctor as soon as possible, in order to make a diagnosis and carry out preventive treatment.

After a bite, a tick should be removed, this should be carried out in a surgery or emergency station of a medical institution. If you remove it yourself you must be aware that a tick should not be crushed, as the contents of it could be left in the wound. Do not pull it out as you can tear off the body from the head. The part that remains in the skin can cause inflammation and infection. The most convenient way to remove a tick is with curved tweezers or a surgical clamp, but any other tweezers will do the job. A tick should be grabbed as close as possible to its proboscis, then it should be carefully pulled upwards and at the same time rotated on its axis. Usually in 1-3 rotations a tick can be removed entirely, together with its proboscis. It is also possible to buy special hooks for their removal, these look like curved two-pronged forks. A tick is put between its teeth and twisted off. If you have neither tweezers, nor special instruments for removal, the insect can be removed by means of a thread. A strong thread is tied in a knot, as close as possible to the proboscis, then the tick is taken out slowly, shaking it sideways and pulling it up.

You should not squash a tick with your hands and it is important to wash carefully after removal. Any wound should be treated with antiseptic. If at extraction, the creature’s head (looking like a black spot) comes off, then the area should be wiped with cotton wool or spirit, the head will need to be removed with a sterile needle as you would with a splinter. Some advice recommends that it is necessary to put ointment bandages on or use oil solutions for removal. However, oil stops the tick from breathing, and it will die, but may remain in the skin. Any wound should heal within a week. The removed tick can be destroyed, but it is better to leave it for laboratory research for the presence of tick infections. It must be brought within two days to the laboratory to check for the presence of borreliosis, encephalitis and other infections.

Unfortunately, by looking at the appearance of a tick it is impossible to say whether it is encephalitic or not. A tick is infected by feeding on an infected animal. It should be placed in a small glass jar together with a piece of cotton wool or napkin (slightly moistened). Cover the jar with a tight lid and keep it in the refrigerator if there is no possibility of delivering it to the laboratory at once. For microscopic diagnosing of a tick, it is necessary to deliver it alive. Anyone who has suffered from a tick bite should be seen by an infectious diseases specialist within a month, and if necessary the doctor will prescribe any necessary preventive measures or treatment.

You should monitor the area of the bite to check for reddening, any rise in temperature, headache, dizziness, vomiting or muscle pain. Reddening can be both a symptom of borreliosis, and allergic reaction to a bite. Some small redness around the wound during the first few days after a bite is usually a reaction and will pass. The majority of those diseased begin to see symptoms during the second week after a bite, but symptoms can appear earlier or later (tick-borne encephalitis- up to 21 days, borreliosis- up to one month). If 21 days have passed since the bite, then tick-borne encephalitis will not develop. While for borreliosis, the incubation period can last up to one month.

The best way to prevent tick infection is to protect against bites with the help of repellents, vaccinations and through the careful management of garden-plots.

By Tatiana Zhukova
Doctor of higher category, M.D. Ph.D.
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