LDA/Columbia 2011
Scientific Conference

Hyatt Penns Landing

Philadelphia, PA

October 1-2, 2011

Category:  Ticks

How long does it typically take between the tick bite and Lyme symptoms to appear? Is it possible to test the tick to see if it is infected?

In most cases, it takes from 3 to 30 days after being bitten by a tick to develop the initial symptoms of Lyme disease. In order for the spirochete to be transmitted, the tick has to be attached for about 36 hours. However, it is possible that if you are bitten by a tick that had a partial blood meal prior to biting you, transmission of Bb can occur even if the duration of attachment is shorter. Because the risk of infection transmission also depends on the infection rate in ticks in the area where the bite occurred, not all tick bites place a person at risk of getting Lyme or other tick-borne diseases. Testing ticks to see if they are infected is not routinely done but if you live in a Lyme endemic area, check with your local or state health departments to see if they do PCR testing on submitted ticks. Lyme specialty labs do test ticks. Just as everyone who is bitten does not come down with Lyme disease, not everyone who has Lyme disease recalls being bitten by a tick. This is because the tick is small and can fall off without the person realizing they have been bitten or because the tick bite occurred in an area of the body that is not readily visible.

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