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Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (cont.)

What Should a Person Do if a Tick Is Found Attached to the Skin?

Ticks infected with R. rickettsii sometimes take as long as six hours to transmit the organisms. Infected ticks are not distinguishable from noninfected ticks by visual means, so all ticks should be removed from the skin as soon as they are discovered to reduce the chance of getting RMSF. The CDC recommends the following: After protecting fingers with gloves, use fine-tipped tweezers or a notched tick extractor to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible; slowly pull upward and do not twist or jerk the tick as this may cause the mouth parts to stay in the skin; if mouth parts remain in the skin, remove them with tweezers; disinfect the bite with iodine, rubbing alcohol, or detergent; save the tick in a plastic bag in the freezer in case RMSF symptoms develop to assist the doctor in making a clinical diagnosis. In addition, do not crush the tick as this may release R. rickettsii onto the skin or into the bite. The CDC further suggest that using other methods (for example, petroleum jelly, lit matches) than those described above may cause the tick to release fluids immediately that contain R. rickettsii and thus increase the chance for RMSF infection.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/23/2014

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