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 is a tick bite diagnosed?
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.