When you think of ticks, perhaps you envision wooded areas or fields of grass, but certainly not the concrete jungle we live in. The fact is that there are several species of ticks that carry diseases in the Northeast, and they can, and do, infiltrate cities. Not to mention, if you head out to the country, you’ll find yourself in those grassy and wooded areas.
To help you better identify ticks and the diseases they can carry, which are also called tick-borne diseases, the team here at Forest Urgent Care pulled together the following primer.
The black-legged tick and Lyme disease
The most prevalent species of tick found in New York are black-legged ticks, also called deer ticks, and they’re the primary carriers of Lyme disease. True to their name, these ticks have black legs, along with a black circle on their orange backs (here’s a link with pictures of the three ticks we discuss here).
Each year in the United States, there are 35,000 confirmed cases of Lyme disease, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that this number may be 10 times higher.
Lyme disease can be a serious and life-long problem that casts a wide net over your health if the infection spreads, which makes early intervention paramount.
One of the earliest signs of Lyme disease is a rash or redness around the bite mark that develops within a week. You may also experience fever, fatigue, or headaches.
If we catch Lyme disease in its early stages, we typically place you on a course of antibiotics, which have been shown to work very well during early infection. In other words, it's important to come see us at the first signs of a potential problem.
These ticks are prevalent in the Northeast, and as their name suggests, they’re often found on dogs. These ticks don’t carry the bacteria that lead to Lyme disease, but they can spread diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which counts fever, muscle aches, and a rash among its chief symptoms.
Lone star ticks
The lone star tick features a yellow dot in the middle of its back, and their bites can lead to an allergy to alpha-gal, which is found in red meats, dairy, and gelatin. The symptoms of this allergy include:
Should this occur, we manage the allergy symptoms with medications and put a trigger avoidance plan into place.
If you find a tick on your body, you should remove it right away. Using a pair of tweezers, grasp the tick as close to its head as possible and pull straight out — please don’t twist.
Once you remove the tick, clean and disinfect the site thoroughly and be sure to take a picture of the insect, just in case.
We want to underscore the point that most ticks don’t carry disease, so we don’t want you to panic if you have a tick bite. That said, be mindful should any symptoms develop and seek our help as soon as possible.
If you’d like to learn more about tick-borne diseases, contact one of our two New York offices in Forest Hills or Hunters Point in Long Island City.