Ticks have one focus and one focus only: to find a host and feed. I often receive phone calls and emails asking, “What kind of tick is this?” or “I took a tick off of me but it was a teeny, tiny one so I’m ok, right?” and “What should I do now?”
There are four life stages for a tick: Adult females lay eggs, eggs hatch into larva, then larva turn into nymphs (tiny ticks) and as they feed, tiny ticks grow into adult ticks. No matter the stage, removing a tick is imperative because even the nymphs can transmit tick-borne diseases as they feed. Transmission of tick-borne disease can occur in as little as a 15-minute attachment time. When removing them, they may break into pieces. That is okay. Get it all out, treat the bite site, and send the tick to be tested at a tick lab. Do not leave any parts of the tick on the body.
Residents of Maine may send removed ticks to be tested at a tick lab at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Orono.
Non-Maine residents may submit removed ticks to tickreport.com or ticknology.org. Submission instructions are easy to follow, and submissions will receive an email report on the tick within a few days.
All tick testing information can be found online at mldse.org under the tick ID and tick testing tab.
The symptomology between Lyme and tick-borne diseases and COVID-19 can be confusing. There is a symptom checklist on the Midcoast Lyme Disease Support and Education website that can help to determine risk assessment.
After receiving a tick bite, clean the site with soap and water, then apply bentonite clay to remove any residual toxins. Topical Benadryl gel can also be used to reduce swelling or itchiness. Ice packs will reduce swelling, which will make the removal of remaining pieces of tick easier. A homeopathic option is to place ledum pellets under the tongue, which can boost immune system while waiting for tick test results from the lab. These products can be found in natural food stores where supplements are sold.
Prevention is key to staying tick-free.
As of June 21, Lyme disease reporting is 236, anaplasmosis is at 147, and babesia is at eight.
Doctors and hospitals cannot test ticks in their offices.