Ticks can be tested for the presence of the germ that causes Lyme disease. You can take your tick to the CT Agricultural Station (CAES) The CAES will identify tick types, but only tests the ticks that cause human disease if they are engorged (taken a blood meal from you.) While they will identify all ticks, they will not test dog ticks or deer ticks that are not engorged. (Directions to CAES.)
District residents (Bethany, Hamden, North Haven and Woodbridge) must have a form from this health department in order for the tick to be tested. You can pick one up at the QVHD office or you can download it here. Note: If you download the form, you must email or fax a copy to QVHD. All tested tick results are sent only to QVHD. However, QVHD does not receive a copy of the form you submit and receives only your last name and a tick identification number. Therefore QVHD will not have your contact information to let you know the results. (Additional information about submitting ticks.)
Because there is a time lag in the getting the results, you should be vigilant for symptoms of tick-borne disease and contact your health care provider if you should develop any. (Symptoms are listed below.)
Most people have heard about Lyme Disease caused by the bite of a tiny tick, commonly known as the deer tick. With the warm weather unfolding, these tiny creatures have awakened and may choose you or your child as a host for its survival. In CT, the primary disease associated with deer ticks is Lyme Disease, however there are other diseases, less common, but existent within our health district, that can be caused by the same insect. They are Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis. You need to be vigilant in checking yourself for ticks.
- Wearing protective clothing (long sleeves, long pants) when in wooded areas.
- Use insect repellent containing DEET.
- Perform daily body checks for ticks. (They like warm, dark places, like folds of skin or hairline.)
- Use tick-repellent products on your pets. (But watch out! They drop off your pet and may find their way onto you!)
- Yard attention such as keeping the grass cut and establishing a barrier between the yard and wooded areas may also help prevent exposure to ticks by reducing tick populations. Visit the CDC website for help in reducing ticks in the backyard: www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/in_the_yard.html
Classic symptoms of Lyme Disease include a slowly, expanding red-pink rash, which may have the appearance of a Bull’s eye; flu-like illness, including low grade fever, fatigue, headache, neck stiffness, jaw discomfort, sore throat, or swollen glands; neurologic symptoms like Bell’s Palsey (drooping of the facial muscles), or other nerve-related symptoms; arthritis symptoms, including pain or stiffness in joints or muscles. While these are classic symptoms, Lyme Disease can cause various other symptoms that may be persistent or come and go. If you experience any unusual illness for which there is no explanation or have symptoms that do not go away or get worse, especially if you have had any kind of a rash, call your doctor and be tested for Lyme Disease.
If you find a tick attached to your skin, there is no need to panic. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively. Prompt and proper tick removal is very important for preventing possible disease transmission.
- Use fine-tipped tweezers and protect your fingers with a tissue, paper towel, or latex gloves. Avoid removing ticks with your bare hands.
- Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
Avoid folklore remedies such as "painting" the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible--not waiting for it to detach.
If you begin to experience a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick.