Have you ever found a tick on your body? If you’re like most us I’m sure you have and like us your first reaction was a deep gasp and a look of horror. Your mind quickly races through the days events searching for the time you could have picked it up but just as fast your thoughts turn to yanking that horrible beast out.
Perhaps visions of Lyme disease wasn’t in these first few minutes of this harrowing episode but when it comes to ticks and anyone who has had one lodged in their skin the thought comes soon enough. “Did this tick carry the disease? Do I have Lyme disease? How will I know?” are just a few questions and without the right answers those thoughts quite often turn to fear.
Time is on your side
Fortunately there is one aspect of the tick that could put your mind at ease but I find that most people don’t know it. Unlike mosquitos who land, cut into your skin and suck their blood meal all in a couple of seconds, ticks need much more time to do the same. Most experts put this time period from 12 to 24 hours and some say 48. In England research suggests 17 hours is the outside edge of the window but in all cases a lot depends on the circumstances. A tick that may have gotten brushed off an animal and immediately finds another host could spread the disease quicker because its saliva juices were already flowing. A person with a weakened immune system may also be more susceptible and not have the full range of time or improper removal techniques could trigger the secretions that carry the dreaded disease.
A ticks specialized mouth parts is the reason it takes so long to begin feeding. Almost like an oil rig it needs to be drilled down and anchored into your flesh until it’s deep enough for feeding to begin. This process thankfully for us is not a quick one but a numbing solution provided by the tick allows them to work unnoticed and get the job done. Only after feeding begins is there a transmission of secretions from the tick and it is at that point, if the tick is a carrier of Lyme or any other disease that it can be transmitted to you.
Make sure to check yourself
The point of this writing is this; check yourself for ticks and you could avoid any chance of contracting tick borne problems. Now this may not be extremely important on a daily basis if you live and work in the city but if your job or hobbies take you into wooded or grassy areas it would behoove you to check yourself out sometime that day. In my work of course I’m always in the den of the lion and I use shower time after work to make sure I haven’t picked up any hitch hiker. For me, my hobby also puts me where ticks thrive. On weekends I dress in full camo gear and roam the woods hunting people with my paintball gun so checking my body for ticks is almost a full time job. Getting Lyme disease would also be a job and one I don’t want so I’ll keep looking everyday. Here’s an excellent guide for checking yourself for ticks put in simple terms. Just make sure to check yourself often and especially if you have ventured into the areas they are known to inhabit. If you catch a tick early enough you’ll have no worries, let it go and find it by chance later you may have issues. Just remember that time is on your side but the clock is always ticking.