Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.
In this Article
- Tick facts
- What are ticks? What do ticks look like?
- What are the risk factors for tick bites?
- What specialists treat tick bites?
- What are tick bite symptoms and signs?
- What diseases do ticks transmit (act as vectors) to humans?
- What are the symptoms and signs of diseases transmitted by ticks?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose a tick bite?
- What is the treatment for a tick bite?
- What is the best method of tick removal?
- Is it possible to prevent tick bites?
- What is the prognosis for people who get a tick bite?
- Where can I find more information about ticks?
What are tick bite symptoms and signs?
Unfortunately for the purpose of detection, the tick bite is usually painless and remains that way even after the tick stops the blood meal and falls off of the skin. Later, the bite site may develop
- redness or red spot, and
- rarely, localized intense pain like in the joints (some soft tick bites) in some individuals.
A few individuals may be sensitive or allergic to tick bites (tick saliva secretions) and develop
- rash near bite,
- shortness of breath,
- numbness, or
- paralysis (for example, neck stiffness).
However, the majority of individuals with tick bites develop no symptoms, and many people do not remember getting bitten.
Some immediate symptoms that infrequently or rarely develop during or immediately after a tick bite may be
- shortness of breath,
- weakness and/or achiness,
- swelling at the bite site and/or lymph nodes,
- weakness or paralysis,
- confusion, or
Individuals with these symptoms should be seen immediately by a doctor.
Recently, researchers have found that the tick bite (mainly the saliva produced by the lone star tick) has caused thousands of people to become allergic to red meat, termed a meat allergy (beef, pork, venison, and occasionally, milk). People can eat poultry (chicken, turkey) and have no allergic reactions. When they eat red meat, they develop swelling and hives. Some may develop anaphylaxis. The reaction is thought to be due to an alpha-gal antigen in the tick's gut and/or saliva that stimulates an immune response that results in an allergic reaction when red meat is consumed. Occasionally, a tick bite may become red, swollen with red streaks; these are signs that the bite has become infected.
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