Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Engorged Embedded Deer Tick Photos (Photographed by Me)

A January 2007 blog post of mine that shows an embedded deer tick on one of my children’s shoulder area gets a lot of hits:

Embedded Deer Tick Photos (Photographed By Me)

The tick discussed in the January 2007 blog post was found immediately after returning from a six hour hike in the woods while doing a tick check. The tick in that other blog post was not engorged as it had only recently attached itself to my son.


Today I decided to share the first photos I have of an embedded, engorged female deer tick, in case these photos help anyone. Background story on this follows the photos. This tick was tested by the State of Connecticut and confirmed to be an adult female engorged deer tick (see rest of story below).

***Double click on any photo to see it enlarged.****

The above photo clearly shows how the tick's mouth is in the scalp and how the body is at a right angle to the skin. Note the red color of the tick's body. No flash was used on this photo, this is taken with natural light from a nearby window.

The above photo shows the angle again of how the body is at a 90 degree angle to the skin on the scalp. Note the red color of the body of the tick. No flash was used on the camera, taken with natural light from a nearby window.

The above photo tries to show what the tick looks like. Note the skin irritation. No flash used on camera.

The above photo shows the reddened skin, local irritation from the tick bite. No flash used on camera.

Below is the photo of the body of the deer tick as I was preparing to take it for testing. The front part of the body, the head and some legs had torn off in the removal process. The engorged part of the deer tick is intact. I put the pen there so you can get an idea for the size of the tick. This is one of the largest deer ticks I've ever seen, it is an adult female. Other deer ticks we have found and had tested were in the nymph stage and were much smaller.

In mid-October 2008, my younger son had spent six hours in the forest in Litchfield County, Connecticut. After that, we came right home. As is usual, we followed the recommended protocol for what to do next: remove all clothes immediately upon entering the house and place in the washing machine to be washed right away. We did a full body tick check including scalp and in hair, he checked himself and I checked him also. He took a shower immediately including washing his hair. Despite doing all that, 21 hours after my son walked out of the woods he came to me and said, “I think I have a deer tick in my head”. He said he felt something irritating his scalp and when he went to itch it, he felt a bump there. This was right on his spine area in the low part of his hair/scalp in the back of his head/upper neck.

When I parted the hair I found this horrid deer tick. This is the most engorged tick I’ve ever found on one of our family members. This tick was very hard to remove with tweezers. I got the body off first, but the mouth was still embedded with the head and some legs. It took about a dozen more attempts with the tweezers to get all the mouth parts out of his scalp. Normally it is not painful to remove an embedded deer tick but this time it was painful.

Since the tick’s body still had the blood in it, I took it for testing to my town’s public health office. They sent it to the state of Connecticut’s Agricultural Experiment Station and it was tested. I received a letter last night saying that indeed this was an engorged, female deer tick, or black legged tick (Ixodes scapularis latin name). In addition this tick tested positive for sphirochetes that cause Lyme Disease (called borrelia burgdorferi).

When I opened this letter some explicatives came out of my mouth. I hate these deer ticks. Hate them. Our family has been sickened by borrelia burgdorferi in the past and we’ve suffered with Lyme Disease and Ehrlichiosis.

I am sharing these photos in case this helps someone in the world learn something about deer ticks also known as black legged ticks also known as Ixodes Scapularis.

If you are looking for a good book for beginners about Lyme Disease or other tick-borne illnesses, I recommend "Everything You Need To Know About Lyme Disease and other tick-borne disorders" by Karen Vanderhoof-Forschner. (I hope to do a book review on that book soon.)

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Edge of Design said...

Thanks for your post today. I was not aware of all that even having had experiences with ticks ourselves. It's good information to have.

Yoaly said...

I live in CT also, where can I take the tick for testing that I just found on myself? any suggestions would be great.

christinemm said...

Our town's public health office collects the ticks for testing. The State of CT requires certain info be given including location on body it was embedded, time and date of removal and ID info of the person.

This testing is free and helps the state figure out how many deer ticks carry the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease.

Dana said...

Ew. So happy we don't have deer ticks here. We have lone star ticks which carry a similar disease, but it isn't as bad.

So sorry you had to go through this!

Life Love Beauty said...

Hi - Thanks for sharing your story! I just pulled one of these suckers off my dog the other day. Can you remember how long the red irritation lasted before it went away or faded? It's been 2 days and it is definitely lighter, but still there. I know dogs and humans are different, but I would feel better having a general idea. :)

Thanks for your time!!

ChristineMM said...

Local irritation at the bite site can last different times. One of my kid's had it for almost two weeks, and it was *not* a bulls-eye rash. It seems the longer the tick was embedded the longer the irritation but that's just antecdotal...