Help! I was bitten by a tick!
My answer to this question is not the same as the IDSA guidelines. I believe more in a proactive solution. Acute Borrelia is much easier to treat than chronic Borrelia, and the tick may have transmitted other organisms that have severe health consequences like anaplasma, ehrlichia, Babesia or Bartonella.These infections can be fatal and you wouldn't be able to test for them in a human until long after the infection set in. Therefore...
TEST THE TICK!
Deer ticks may or may not contain Borrelia, which is the causative agent of Lyme disease. There is always risks in taking antibiotics. There is also risks in not treating acute infections.
If the tick didn’t have any infections then undertaking the risk isn't necessary.
The IDSA guidelines state no treatment if the tick has been attached for less than 24 hour. One dose of doxy 200 mg once if the tick was on for 24 hours or more. Sadly, Borrelia can be transferred faster than 24 hours from a nymph or an adult tick that was feeding on something else first. The other infections a tick may transmit can come through much faster!
TEST THE TICK!
Please take these steps with the tick that bit you.
Check what kind of tick it is. A deer tick can transfer Borrelia and other infections. Other types of ticks can still transfer certain infections.Figure out how long it’s been on. I would suggest following this protocol if it's well attached especially if you aren't sure.Get the tick off you as quickly as possible, using a method that gets the whole tick out without much trauma to you or squeezing tick's body. READ UP ON HOW TO REMOVE A TICK.Put the deer tick in a zip lock bag.Test the tick! Tick testing may even be fast enough that you have a result before you have any symptoms... that's the ideal scenario. See below for tick testing optionsIf you have symptoms that indicate you got an infection, I suggest you take antibiotics while you wait for the test results. The longer the tick is on you, the more likely I will suggest being on antibiotics while you wait. I tend to put people on lower dose antibiotics while waiting for the tick test to return. If the tick is positive for Borrelia then I test and treat the person as if there is an acute Borrelia infection (Borreliosis). Antibiotics should start within a few days of the bite. The sooner the better. Waiting for the results is reasonable if you use a lab with fast turn around.If you are an established patient and are aware of my Lyme treatment style, you can get in touch with me to start treatment. I will charge a short appointment charge and initiate the treatment. If you aren't an established patient, test the tick and get in touch with my office to set up an appointment. Please let us know the tick testing is in progress or done. We will try to fit you in. In that case, reading my LYME DISEASE WEB PAGE ahead of your first appointment, please. You could use an alternative to antibiotics while waiting for the test results. I generally use a mixture of herbs and grapefruit seed extract. I still suggest adding antibiotics if the test came back positive for Borrelia in the tick.
Umass Exention: Tickreport.com. A UMASS service. Fast and easy to use. My preference. Register the tick and pay online and then sent it in.
IGenex: They test ticks, even in bulk. More expensive and they don't test for multiple infections, you pay for each one. Wonderful company, maybe not the best option for a single tick test, but a good plan if you have 20 tick on you and you want to know if one of them had Borrelia or other bacteria.
Tickcheck.com: Indiana based. Multiple panel options. Register and pay online, send the tick in. Fast turn around.
Ticknetics. Located in Great Meadows NJ.
I strongly insist that you do tick testing instead of guessing or waiting for symptoms. Not everyone gets the rash. The bacteria is very slow growing so symptom lag time could be months! Testing the tick is often easier and faster than testing a person. Cell mediated immunity reaction testing may be positive within a few days, but it's expensive compared to testing the tick. Antibody testing for Lyme can take weeks to turn positive. If you choose not to test the tick...SAVE THE TICK! You can save the tick in the freezer. Put it in a ziplock bag, write the relevant info on the bag including: Who it bit where it bit Date of bite. If you think there is a chance you may want to test the tick later, do not put the tick in alcohol or tape. A baggie in the freezer preserves the tick for testing. There are infections in all ticks including deer and wood ticks that can be fatal. There are bacteria and parasites that can be fatal if left untreated. My suggestion when you get ANY tick bite to pay attention foir symptoms during the next 2 weeks. If you get severe sudden onset of symptoms, you should be on an antoibiotic treatment immedately. Anaplasma and Ehrlichia can take off, cause damage and even be fatal BEFORE your immune system has time to kill the infection. This means you could get a fatal bite from any tick before your immune system can make antibody...and before any test turns positive. The advantage of testing deeply embeeded wood/dog ticks is to make sure they don't have these other bacterial pathogens.
Hope this help you decide what to do.
Dr. Steve Clark, N.D.