Table of Contents
- 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?
How do health care professionals diagnose a tick bite?
No tests exist that either identify tick bites or the type of tick once the tick dislodges from the host's body. However, doctors can examine the entire body, looking for ticks still attached, rashes, or signs of a tick-caused disease. If a tick is identified, the physician can better choose what additional tests should be done because some ticks are likely to transmit certain pathogens. Again, the web citations below have photos of ticks that can help distinguish ticks from biting insects, such as fleas, mites, or bedbugs.
Identification of the tick genus and species may help the physician determine what further tests may be scheduled. For example, blood tests for diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and tularemia are generally not positive for weeks after the exposure, even though symptoms may be present. Knowledge of the type of tick that caused the bite can help narrow the physician's possible diagnoses and even allow the physician to proceed with early therapy before a positive diagnosis is made.
Exams and tests should be done if an individual exhibits symptoms after a tick bite. Most tick bites do not have symptoms. If symptoms develop after a tick bite, the determination of which tests need to be performed can be optimized in consultation with an infectious-disease specialist.