New Tricks for Removing Ticks & Avoiding RMSF & Lyme Disease
What ever happened to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)? It seems like Lyme Disease hogs most of the air time these days – but RMSF is still around. In this post we’ll show you two safe and clever ways to remove ticks you may have not seen before. We will also review the symptoms – and most important – the treatment of RMSF Preppers should know cold!
Can You Only Get RMSF in the Rocky Mountains?
Best known for spreading Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease, ticks are a common problem nearly everywhere. Both RMSF and Lyme disease have been reported in most of the Continental United States, with the highest concentration of RMSF being found in the Mid-South.
The first symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever usually begin 2-14 days after the tick bites you. The bite itself is usually painless, but about half of the people who go on to develop the disease never remember being bitten. Most often the disease begins with the sudden onset of fever and headache.
Other Symptoms include:
- Rash (which occurs 2-5 days after fever, and may be absent in some cases)
- Abdominal pain (may be mistaken for appendicitis)
- Muscle pain
- Lack of appetite
- Redness of the whites of the eyes
RMSF is Not Going Away
Tick Removal Techniques
Trying to remove ticks has gone through a long and troubled evolution in America. While it’s agreed that removing the entire tick, and not leaving any of the head or mouth in the wound is a priority, few of us have been able to do this most times.
Squeezing the tick’s body will cause it to regurgitate stomach contents into the person, often with disease causing microbes in the mix. So if you do choose to use tweezers, grab the head as close to the skin possible. But don’t use tweezers if you can avoid it.
Smothering the tick by covering it with Vaseline has also been tried, but usually results in regurgitation before self-extraction. Getting it to back out by holding a hot match to its rear might work at times, but most often only burns the patient. This brings us to trick #1.
#1 – Inject Lidocaine (or Saline) Under the Tick
Many of us feel it’s best to inject Lidocaine under the tick using a small bore insulin style syringe/needle, then pull it out.
This technique has several advantages. The wheel of lidocaine under the skin produces an upward pressure that prevents stomach contents from entering back into the persons skin, even when its body is accidentally squeezed. Moreover, if the tick does not back out on its own, and has to be pulled out with tweezers, the remaining parts can be cut out with a scalpel because the area will be deadened. If you don’t have lidocaine, you can use sterile saline in its place.
#2 The Straw Lasso Tick Round-Up
Another trick is to have someone hold a straw over the critter and encircle it with sewing thread. Gently tighten a knot around the straw as it’s slowly retracted. You will be left with a lassoed tick. The knot will prevent stomach regurgitation, and you can use the thread to pull the little guy out.
Per CDC Recommendations: “Doxycycline is the first line treatment for adults and children of all ages and should be initiated immediately whenever RMSF is suspected.”
- Adults: 100 mg every 12 hours
- Children under 45 kg (100 lbs): 2.2 mg/kg body weight given twice a day
Keep in mind people should be treated for an additional 3 days after the fever resolves, and until there is evidence the person has significantly improved. The standard duration of treatment is usually 7-14 days.
Some General Comments on Doxycycline
All in all, doxycycline is probably the most versatile drug for use in the wilderness. If you can only pack one antibiotic – make it doxycycline. It predisposes people to sunburn, and has some restrictions with pregnancy, but is easy to come by and works for many ailments. If nowhere else, you can find it in a pet store with the fish antibiotics.
Last and Really Bizarre
For some reason when a tick lodges in the back of a person’s neck, it can cause a type of ascending paralysis. This is when you become numb and weak, first in the toes and feet, and then the disability slowly creeps all the way up to your head. But this complication is rare, and removal of the tick is all that’s needed to resolve these unusual symptoms.
Take Home Message: Ticks can carry a variety of diseases, most of which produce rashes, and respond well to doxycycline taken for 14 days. If a person has a rash that involves the palms, and it was not preceded by a common head cold, a tick borne illness may be the cause. Give the person an antibiotic. Doxycycline works best, and the infection usually resolves in a couple weeks.
The Above Has Been Adapted From: