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TICK BITES AND LYME DISEASE

If you find a tick on your body, get a pair or tweezers and gently remove it and clean the area with alcohol. The tick that causes Lyme disease is very small, but can fill with blood and be huge. If a few days after the bite, you develop a red spot surrounded by an enlarging circle, or you develop flu-like symptom, go to your doctor. You should probably be given doxycycline for three weeks.

Even if you don't develop a bull's eye rash or flu-like symptoms, you still could develop Lyme disease many months or years later, characterized by nerve or joint damage. Now you are in big trouble because late-stage Lyme disease is very difficult to cure. Get an ELISSA blood test for Lyme disease and if it is positive, you need a Western Blot, which is more dependable. However, no completely dependable test for Lyme disease exists and many doctors treat arthritis and nerve damage as Lyme disease, even when all blood tests for Lyme disease are negative. A rule of thumb is that people with nerve damage are usually treated with intravenous Rocephin for 30 days, while people with arthritis do not need the intravenous treatment.

Many people who take the intravenous treatment get better for a few months only to have all their symptoms return, so all people with a diagnosis of Lyme disease should be treated with doxycycline 100 mg twice a day until they have no symptoms at all. This can take months or years and when they stop taking doxycycline, they should watch carefully for return of their symptoms and start taking antibiotics immediately if their symptoms return.

Tick bites can also cause Ehrlichiosis, babesiosis and tick-borne encephalitis, that can start out as flu-like symptoms, to damage your immunity and cause nerve damage, chronic tiredness and joint pains. A major problem is that you can be bitten by a tick and not know it. See report #G138.

1) Granstrom. New emerging tick-borne diseases. Bulletin de L Academie Nationale de Medecine, 1999, Vol 183, Iss 7, pp 1391-1398.

2) Granstrom. New emerging tick-borne diseases. Bulletin de L Academie Nationale de Medecine, 1999, Vol 183, Iss 7, pp 1391-1398.

3) NEJM, July 31, 1997.

4) ST Donta. Tetracycline therapy for chronic Lyme disease. Clinical Infectious Diseases 25: Suppl. 1 (JUL 1997):S52-S56.

Checked 8/9/05

June 1st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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