“If you develop symptoms including fever, flu-like illness or a rash within a few weeks of a tick bite, you should tell your doctor about your tick exposure,” said Overholt. He recommends people record the date of any tick bites in case symptoms occur later. Some symptoms of Lyme disease may not appear until weeks, months or years after a tick bite, affecting joints, nervous system and heart.
“Prompt removal of an attached tick will significantly reduce the risk of infection,” said Overholt. “Not all ticks are infected with disease, but those that are, must bite and remain attached for hours in order to transmit diseases,” said Overholt. For the black-legged tick, it’s usually 36-48 hours; for the dog tick, it’s four to six hours.
Diagnosis of Lyme disease is based on history of tick exposure, signs and symptoms and is aided by the use of blood tests. Lyme disease responds to appropriate antibiotic therapy. Early detection and treatment will reduce the risk of arthritis and other complications.