A couple posts ago we saw the proper way to remove a tick after a tick bite, as a means of preventing tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease. Pictured here is erythema migrans, a bulls-eye rash known to be the first sign of Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is caused by transfer of bacteria (B. burgdorferi) into the bloodstream during a tick-bite, and is the most common tick-borne illness. Erythema migrans is the earliest clinical sign, occurring within a couple weeks of a tick bite (even before we start producing antibodies). Presence of erythema migrans after travel to an area endemic for Lyme disease does merit physician evaluation for antibiotics, as the next signs of Lyme disease can be much more serious: meningitis, heart block, and arthritis.
Important to note that only 80% of those with Lyme disease will have erythema migrans, and many don't even recall having a tick bite... Thus, preventing tick bites to begin with is key . First step, knowing endemic areas: traveling through the woods in northeastern United States (outside the US, we think of Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia). Next, knowing where to expect ticks... ticks live in bushy and wooded areas. Last, wearing long-sleeved clothing... I lovee hiking just like the next guy, but if traveling though an endemic area, especially in these hot summer months I'd wear long sleeves and stay ON the trail, away from those pesky ticks