To the Editor;
When it comes to having a tick bite, in reality there is no such thing as a 36 to 48-hour grace period from when the tick bites.
It is time to stop spreading this misinformation. This false message that people have been told that there is no risk if the tick is removed within 36 to 48 hours is simply not true. This original study was done with mice and another study with mice has shown risk can be within 24 hours of attachment.
There have been no studies done showing the minimum attachment time required for transmission to humans, especially from the nymphal ticks. There was a European study documenting six cases of culture-confirmed Lyme from attachment of less than six hours, and another where there were nine cases with transmission occurring in less than 24 hours. The question is how many members of the public as well as the health-care profession are skilled to identify or know how long a tick may have been attached. The other piece of information to note is that most people with Lyme never saw the tick. There is definitely need for more study and each case can be different. If you are bitten by a tick, there is a risk that you could have contracted an infection.
Lyme disease may be the most prevalent tick-borne infection but it is not the only pathogen carried by blacklegged ticks. Anaplasma, Babesia, Bartonella, Borreila mayonii, Borrelia miyamotoi, Ehrlichia, and Powassan virus are all transmitted by the same tick that transmits Lyme disease. Powassan virus is known to be transmitted within 15 minutes.
There was a tree planter in B.C. who started work at 8 a.m. and had an abdominal irritation at coffee break at 10 a.m. A tick had been attached for less than two hours and removed by a first aid provider. In approximately 48 hours, he was at a doctor’s office with a dime-size target rash and a diagnosis of Lyme was made. His blood serology came back positive through both the Elisa and Western blot methods.
There was a veterinarian in the U.S. who contracted Lyme as the result of a needle stick after taking blood from a dog with Lyme. Mucus membranes and contact with fluids from a ruptured tick can result in infection. Lyme has been shown to be congenital and unfortunately babies are being born with Borrelia.
Although it is not common, I have known of a case contracted as a result of a blood transfusion.
Every case is different as each one of us is a unique individual and can’t be put in the same box. There is need for more research and an open mind by others to see that risk is risk. It is time to stop saying there is no risk and giving a false sense of security.
Education is key.