What's the best way to avoid Lyme disease?
Decrease exposure to ticks.
But, this doesn't mean foregoing your forays outside of New York City!
Simple interventions to decrease exposure to ticks:
- Don't pet the deer! Although deer may be an inviting selfie Instastory opportunity, avoid close contact with deer! Deer are the favored host of the Ixodes tick, which can carry the Borrelia bacteria which causes Lyme disease.
- Dress appropriately! Wear socks and pants when venturing into heavily wooded areas.
- Clean up leaves and brush! Removing the foliage will increase exposure of ticks to sunlight, which will dry and kill the critters.
Even with careful consideration to avoid contact with ticks, exposure can still occur.
You've found a tick attached to your body, now what?
Testing for Lyme disease may only be performed 4 weeks or longer after your tick bite (this is how long it takes for the antibodies to surface in the blood). Who would want to wait 4 weeks to find out if you have Lyme disease? Rather than wait, take prophylaxis with a single dose of 200mg of doxycycline within 72 hours of your tick bite.
Step 1: Don't panic.
Step 2: Carefully remove the tick with tweezers
Step 3: Call me at 646.568.6636 to obtain a single dose of 200mg of doxycycline. Don't wait! Prompt administration of prophylactic antibiotics significantly decreases the risk of Lyme disease.
200mg of doxycycline should only be administered if:
- The tick was attached for at least 36 hours
- The tick was removed less than 72 hours ago
- You are at least 8 years old and are not allergic to doxycycline
More than Lyme
Borrelia isn't the only bacteria transmitted by the Ixodes tick. Anaplasma is another bacterium that can be transmitted by the same Ixodes tick vector. Upwards of 40% of those infected with Lyme Disease will also be infected with Anaplasma.
Fortunately, doxycycline is also effective as prophylaxis against Anaplasma!
For urgent doxycycline following a tick bite.
Hu, Linden. "Clinical manifestations of Lyme disease in adults" <UpToDate.com>
Jackson, Anita N. "Pharmacist initiation of postexposure doxycycline for Lyme disease prophylaxis" Journal of American Pharmacists Association. Volume 54, Issue 1, January–February 2014, Pages 69–73.
Wormser, GP. "Prevention of Lyme borreliosis" Wien Klin Wochenschr. 2005 Jun;117(11-12):385-91.
Background image taken from <https://beautifullyalive.org/doxycycline-for-acne-pros-cons/>