Tick ​​bite and Lyme disease: advice from an infectious disease specialist at Chartres hospital

Dr. Iuliana Darasteanu, an infectiologist at Chartres Hospital, gives her advice to avoid getting stung by a tick.

What characterizes Lyme disease?

This is an infection caused by bacteria carried by a tick. This can transmit the bacteria to humans at the time of a bite. Unlike spiders or mosquitoes, tick bites don’t hurt or itch. It can go unnoticed. Fortunately, not all ticks are infected.

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Have you noticed an increase in the number of consultations linked to this disease?

There are no more consultations than the other years, but we regularly see patients who end up with positive Lyme disease serology as part of a blood test or who arrive in the emergency room with erythema migrans.

How to protect yourself against ticks when you are walking

What are the symptoms ?

Within 3 to 30 days after a bite from an infected tick, Lyme disease may first appear as a red patch larger than 5 cm in diameter that progresses. Erythema migrans can reach up to 30 cm in diameter.

What should I do in the event of a bite?

The tick must first be removed before disinfecting the skin, because if alcohol is applied, the tick may cling even more in wanting to defend itself. You can use a needle stick or tweezers to grab the tick at the base, then turn the tweezers counterclockwise and pull out all at once. Afterwards, the skin must be disinfected.

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When should you consult?

As soon as an erythema migrans appears, it is necessary to consult urgently so that the doctor starts a two-week antibiotic treatment which makes it possible to heal. But if the disease is not treated in the primary stage, it can progress, causing joint and muscle pain, persistent fatigue and cognitive impairment.

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Is it then considered a chronic disease?

In June 2018, the High Authority for Health indicated that patients with polymorphic persistent syndrome after a possible tick bite should be able to benefit from appropriate care. Since March 2019, reference centers have opened the Directorate General of Health on request, which has implemented a Lyme plan. In the Center-Val de Loire region, the Orleans hospital is the reference center for this disease.

How can we protect ourselves?

Ticks live in wooded and humid areas, in the tall grasses of meadows, parks and gardens. The prevention advice is quite simple: stay on marked paths, avoid walking in tall grass and cover your arms and legs with long clothes. There are specific repellants, available in pharmacies, to be put on clothes and on the skin. After a walk, it is advisable to carefully inspect your body.

Helene Bonnet