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Lyme Disease Transmission

Lyme Disease
Lyme disease (LD) is normally transmitted by ticks, usually Ixodes scapularis, the black-legged tick; but other ticks, mosquitoes, and horse flies have been known to also transmit it. If not interrupted, ticks feed for four or more days. They become engorged within a day of biting, but stay about the same size although they continue to feed for several more days.

Transmitting the Bacteria

Blood is composed of only 40% blood cells, and those are about 90% water. Thus, about 95% of what the tick removes from the host has no nutritive value for the tick. In order to prevent itself from exploding from excess water, the tick removes nutrients and proteins (albumin and hemoglobin) from the blood and vomits the liquid back into the host: repeatedly sucking fresh blood, removing the nutrients, and spitting the liquid back.

If the tick is infected, the bacteria are injected while the tick is regurgitating. This usually does not happen until the tick has become engorged with blood – about 36 hours or more after attaching, but some have contracted LD from ticks that were imbedded less than 10 hours without becoming engorged. Removing a non-swollen tick usually means the person will probably not be infected unless the tick is squeezed or caused to regurgitate before releasing its bite, but a doctor should always be informed about tick bites.

Removing Ticks

A plastic card with a v cut at one end removes ticks easily, but a fine tweezers or removal tool may also be used. The card or tool is slipped under the tick with the point of the v at its head (the part with feet sticking out) and pushed toward the tick's rear. If the tick is newly imbedded, it usually pops out. If the jaws of the tick, or even its head might break off and remain in the skin, a doctor should remove the tick to prevent infection. The area should be flushed with an astringent mouthwash or alcohol, and the tick killed in the same liquid. If a tick cannot be removed easily, a doctor should remove it.

Ticks must not be removed by trying to:
  • Heat them with a cigarette. They will vomit immediately.
  • Burn them. They will vomit and die.
  • Cover them with petroleum jelly. They only breathe a couple of times an hour and will not suffocate.
  • Squeeze them. Any bacteria they have will be regurgitated.
  • Flood them with alcohol or mouthwash. They vomit and die.

Preventing Tick Bites

Just because a tick crawls onto a person does not mean it will feed. Once on a potential host, the tick may drop off or crawl to the body and imbed, often in hair, sometimes against a barrier such as belted clothing. Standard methods of preventing tick bites are to:
  • Tuck pant legs inside socks.
  • Use insect repellent on clothing and skin.
  • Check for ticks after every session outside.
  • Wear light colored clothing.
Even the most rigorous attention to these methods does not always protect against bites. Some individuals are more prone to being bitten than others. A less "orthodox" addition to the above techniques is to:
  • Take two 500 mg garlic capsules and 1000 mg of fish oil daily.

Those who have tried it, find the combination even more effective in reducing the number of bites. People who were once "tick magnets" almost immediately find very few ticks on them once adding these oils to their diets. Thus, the combination of garlic and fish oil is highly recommented to repel ticks for people who are not allergic to them. Garlic powder is touted by several animal feed stores as an excellent way to keep pets and domestic animals free from ticks. But dosing pets with huge amounts of garlic can be fatal to them. Like all medications, moderation is the rule.

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