Ticks - Diagnosis

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What types of tests or exams led to a diagnosis of a tick-related infection in you or someone you know?

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How do health-care professionals diagnose a tick bite?

No tests exist that either identify tick bites or the type of tick once the tick dislodges from the host's body. However, doctors can examine the entire body, looking for ticks still attached, rashes, or signs of a tick-caused disease. If a tick is identified, the physician can better choose what additional tests should be done because some ticks are likely to transmit certain pathogens. Again, the web citations below have photos of ticks that can help distinguish ticks from biting insects, such as fleas, mites, or bedbugs.

Identification of the tick genus and species may help the physician determine what further tests may be scheduled. For example, blood tests for diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichiosis, and tularemia are generally not positive for weeks after the exposure, even though symptoms may be present. Knowledge of the type of tick that caused the bite can help narrow the physician's possible diagnoses and even allow the physician to proceed with early therapy before a positive diagnosis is made.

Exams and tests should be done if an individual exhibits symptoms after a tick bite. Most tick bites do not have symptoms. If symptoms develop after a tick bite, the determination of which tests need to be performed can be optimized in consultation with an infectious-disease specialist.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: TM, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 01

Two days after I removed the tick I started feeling nauseous and dizzy followed by joint pain, back ache, headaches and extreme fatigue which got progressively worse. My skin felt like it was burning but I didn't have a rash. On day 10 I went to the doctor who prescribed doxycycline 100 mg and painkillers. I'm on day 2 of medicines and not yet feeling any relief.

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Comment from: mike, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: April 22

I had been bitten by a seed tick. I had the worst of the symptoms. I went to the emergency room (ER) after 2nd day of 102 fever. There were blood tests, urine tests, IVs. It took 2 more days to determine the illnesses. I was diagnosed with Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. I was told I was in the start of kidney failure as a result of the extreme dehydration. I was given antibiotics and admitted to give me fluids. If anyone has any flu like symptoms after a tick bite, I urge you to seek hospital and ask them to look for Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain fever. It may save your life.

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