Health & Wellness
Tick Bites and Lyme Disease
In Napa, Sonoma and Benicia
Ticks are tiny creatures similar to spiders. In the areas near our clinics in Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties, tick bites usually occur outdoors in wooded areas with tall grass, rocks, logs, and fallen leaves.
Ticks bite and feed by latching onto animals and humans and inserting their mouthparts into the skin. In California, there are various types of ticks, but only six are commonly known to bite humans.
Some of these ticks, such as the Western Blacklegged Tick may carry germs such as bacteria or viruses, which can cause diseases when transmitted to a person while the tick is attached. Tick bites spread several diseases, but lyme disease is the most common and serious disease that you can get from a tick bite.
To prevent diseases caused by tick bites, the best approach is to avoid tick bites. This can be done by using tick repellent when venturing outside in areas where ticks are prevalent. It is also essential to frequently check for ticks while outdoors and once you return indoors. Most people don’t feel a tick bite, so checking your skin for ticks after spending time outdoors can help you find a tick and remove it. If you discover a tick attached to your skin, it’s important to remove it immediately and carefully. Come on in to a clinic and we’ll help.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease results from an infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that spreads through infected ticks found commonly in grassy and wooded areas throughout California. Lyme disease caused by a tick bite can cause fever, fatigue, joint pain, and a skin rash as well as other more serious symptoms if left untreated. For more information about lyme disease see our frequently asked question section below.
Our Goal is to Make Healthcare Easy
- Pressed for time? We recommend a video visit. You can always follow up by coming to a clinic.
- Come see us even without an appointment.
- We’re open on the weekend in Napa and Benicia.
- We accept most insurance plans – even Kaiser!
- We can usually see patients quickly with short wait time.
- The clinics are managed by an emergency medicine doctor who has 25 years of clinical experience.
Bullseye Rash Often Seen with Lyme Disease
What are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease?
Initially after getting a tick bite you might see the following:
- Rash: A circular or oval-shaped rash turning red known as erythema migrans surrounding the bite area. If you suspect Lyme disease due to an expanding rash that resembles a bullseye after being bitten by a tick, don’t ignore it –
- Flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue, headaches, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle/joint pains.
Remember that if left untreated, it can lead to more severe conditions like:
- Redness/swelling/joint pain (Lyme Arthritis), particularly around the knees.
- Rare neurological complications, such as Bell’s Palsy or Meningitis, alongside weakness/numbness in limbs.
How common is Lyme Disease?
According to the US EPA, there are approximately 20,000–30,000 confirmed cases of Lyme disease per year.
In California, the CA Department of Public Health tells us that nymphal (immature) ticks pose a higher risk of disease transmission than adult ticks. The nymphs are most active in spring and early summer, so that’s the time to be most careful.
How is Lyme Disease treated?
If you’ve been exposed to a tick bite and are diagnosed with Lyme Disease, we’ll prescribe an effective antibiotic. The choice depends upon the stage of infection. Antibiotics like Doxycycline, Amoxicillin or Cefuroxime are usually recommended during the early stages of infection and are given for two-three weeks orally.
What can happen if you ignore Lyme Disease?
It’s important to get prompt medical assistance when Lyme disease is suspected because early treatment increases the chances of full recovery and prevents complications from occurring. Leaving untreated or delaying treatment of lyme disease can result in severe health conditions such as persistent joint pain & swelling, neurological complications involving memory problems, concentration difficulties, and erratic heartbeat.
How can I prevent or avoid Lyme Disease?
Always take preventive measures while going for a hike, camping, gardening or spending time in tick-infested zones.
1. We recommend using EPA-approved insect repellents containing DEET; picaridin, or IR3535 on any exposed skin/ clothing
2. Wear protective clothing like long sleeves & pants with knee-length socks
3. Tuck your pants into your boots or socks for extra protection.
After returning from these areas, thoroughly check yourself for ticks, including any pets who might have accompanied you.
Whenever you find any, promptly remove them from uncovered skin parts.
If you want more information on avoiding ticks and Lyme disease check out sites like the California Department of Public Health’s website or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website
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