Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Do ticks cause lyme disease?"
I was in the woods with my girlfriends and got a tick on my leg. I heard that they cause lyme disease? Should I get tested for it?
Tick bites can be the source for a few different infections. The risk that you received one of these infections depends on a few factors. I'll explain. Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria that live inside a certain species of tick. These ticks tend to live in specific areas of the country. Probably the most notorious area for tick borne Lyme disease is the northeastern United States. Deciding whether or not you should be tested for Lyme disease is a bit complicated, and depends on your level of certainty with certain factors. For example, if the tick was attached to your leg for less than 24 hours, then the infection with the Lyme disease bacteria is very unlikely. Lyme disease usually begins with a rash that appears a few days after the tick bite. If it has been more than a week with no rash, then the infection is less likely. Keep in mind that tick bites can transmit other infections (more rare) other than Lyme disease. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can take a close look at the area where the bit was. Your doctor will ask you specific questions about the length of time the tick was attached. From there, your doctor will know whether or not testing you for Lyme is worthwhile.