Tick-Borne Illness: What You Need to Know

Nursing | Jenna Quinn, RN| August 30, 2017

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Tick-borne illness is a global healthcare issue. Explore some key considerations for clinicians treating patients with tick borne illnesses.

Ticks have always been a problem during summer when daylight is long and people are spending more time outdoors. Most tick bites only cause minor injury, but they have the potential to cause everything from Lyme Disease to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, or even the exceedingly rare Powassan Virus. 

In the United States, 2017 is expected to be a particularly bad year for tick-borne illnesses. Experts believe this is because of an excessively high mouse population in the summer of 2016. That combined with a mild winter, where fewer ticks were killed off, is a recipe for many tick bites ahead.  

Prevention is key to avoiding tick-borne illnesses. But how do you help your patients protect themselves from ticks? We suggest advising patients who are planning to spend any extended time outdoors to:

  • Avoid grassy or wooded areas if possible.
  • Stick to the center of the trail when hiking or biking.
  • Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin or IR3535 on exposed skin as suggested by the CDC.
  • Check yourself for ticks as soon as you get home.
  • While ticks are a year-round threat; be extra cautious in warm weather.

In the United States, 2017 is expected to be a particularly bad year for tick borne illnesses.

As far as treatment of patients affected with a tick bite, it’s rather simple in approach.

  • Get the tick off as soon as possible ― the longer the tick is attached, the higher the risk of disease.
  • Prescribe antibiotics ― antibiotics should be prescribed as soon as possible.
  • Watch for other symptoms ― symptoms such as a red mark around the bite. A fever or flu-like symptoms require immediate medical attention.

One of the more common of the tick-borne illnesses is Lyme Disease. Some symptoms of Lyme Disease include achy joints, a bulls-eye formation rash around the tick bite and fever or flu-like symptoms. While there is no vaccine for Lyme Disease, scientists are working to develop one. Vaccinations are, of course, the most secure form of prevention, and the hope is that in the future there will be an effective vaccine against Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

For more information about Lyme Disease and tick-borne illness, click the “Download Now” button below to access a free Quick Lesson on the topic from Nursing Reference Center™ Plus ― the premier evidence-based information resource designed by nurses for nurses.

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Jenna Quinn, RN
Southeast Implementation Manager

Jenna Quinn is a Registered Nurse living in Atlanta, Georgia. She's currently pursuing her MSN in Informatics, and is an Implementation Manager for EBSCO. 

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