Hedgehog Bottom Rescue — Quick Diagnosis Chart

Hedgehog Bottom

Hedgehog Clinic in West Berkshire

In need of help?

  • Secure the hedgehog in a DEEP box or cat basket.
  • DO NOT FEED, shallow dish of water only
  • Visit our What to Do page or find a rescue.

Quick Diagnosis

Hedgehogs get more things wrong with them than just about any other animal. It can often be difficult, especially for a new carer, to work out what the symptoms presenting themselves actually mean. Whether you are a lay person coming to this page for advice or a new carer, please link up with a hedgehog rescue who will be able to check the animal over and give advice.

Whilst it’s great you are trying to help you need to do so in an appropriate manner and you will not always have what is required to hand. Taking a wild animal in and cuddling it while it dies is not rescue and is probably beaking the law.

First and foremost. DO NOT FEED.

When an animal arrives the first thing most people do is shove a big dish of food in front of it. A starving animal cannot handle a sudden intake of food and will die. ALWAYS, get the hog rehydrated properly before offering solids.

The table below gives a list of some of the more common issues and what the possible cause is, however, if in doubt always seek expert advice

Adult crying, peeping, squealing

This is usually the sign of an animal in pain or terrified

Unless there is an obvious reason for the hog being frightened then seek help and medical attention immediately. Hedgehogs put up with a lot of pain before they start to scream.

Baby/juvenile crying, peeping, squealing

This usually means cold, hungry or scared but can mean injury

Make sure the little one has warmth and a shallow dish of water. Check it carefully for injury, a cat claw leaves a miniscule hole.

If you have never worked with hoglets before, seek expert advice immediately. Under NO circumstances give them milk.

Unless you are prepared for a lot of sleepless nights you may wish to pass these to an expert until they are big enough to fend for themselves

Wobbling or falling over 1

Dehydration or infection.

All sick hogs arriving are likely to need fluids. Dehydrated hedgehogs absolutely need rehydration fluids 2 and need them immediately.

If the hog is cold it must be warmed up before these can be administered. If the hog is responsive you can give oral rehydration warmed to body temperature, otherwise it will need subcutaneous 3 fluids.

If you are unable to do this yourself then take the hog to a vet or rescue who can. Dehydration is life threatening as the internal organs are shutting down.

For a good guide to determining whether a hedgehog is dehydrated or not, see Toni Bunnell’s research page.

The images on the left show a healthy hog and a malnourished one.

Out and about during the day

Sick, starving or dehydrated, disturbed nest, nursing female

99% of the hedgehogs found out during the day, other than early morning or late evening, are in trouble.

It cannot hurt to check it over. If it’s healthy you can return it to where you found it.

If possible, before you take it in, check to make sure it’s not a lactating female who may be taking a food break from the babies

Dehydrated, worms, fluke, pain, stress

First check the situation the hog is in. Noisy places, children running around, TV or radio blaring, are not suitable for a hedgehog. You may well be used to this but the hog will be terrified.

The first thing to do is make sure the hog is somewhere very quiet and covered so that it can feel secure. If it is still very active, running around the cage, scrabbling at the walls or floor, check faeces for worms and eggs, give fluids or take it to a vet.

There is likely to be another underlying infection that’s caused this.

Make sure the hog is warm and then give fluids. Usually it’s impossible to give oral fluids to a collapsed hog so it will need to go to the vet if you cannot give subcutaneous fluids.

Incorrect diet or milk

Fluids are important as the diarrhoea will start to dehydrate the hog. Feed only on very light easily digested food such as Esbilac, Hills A/D, Royal Canin Recovery or minced lightly boiled chicken with added vitamins and minerals.

If it doesn’t clear up fairly quickly then a course of antibiotics may be needed. Consult your vet.

Pale green clear faeces with white ‘eggs’

This is almost certainly down to feeding Esbilac or similar milk substitute and is nothing to worry about.

Deep green faeces, mucousy or jelly like

Infection, antibiotics, pre or post hibernation

Hedgehogs seem to do some sort of gut purge immediatley before and after hibernation, this is nothing to worry about unless it continues after a couple of days of solid food.

A hedgehog on antibiotics will often produce this as the natural gut bacteria are destroyed. You can help by giving probiotics but not at the same time as the antibiotics. Try to leave a good gap.

If neither of these is the case then there is a gut infection of some kind and antibiotics are likely to be required. See a vet

Coughing — smokers chesty cough

Lungworm or pneumonia

Wormers specifically for lungworm are likely to be needed and antibiotics should be given at the same time to help the hog fight off infection from the dying worms. There are a number of different medications available, if you are not sure what to use seek advice from an expert.

If the hedgehog is having breathing difficulties then a nebuliser or a drop of Olbas oil on a tissue can help

An expectorant may be given to help the hog cough up the worms

Coughing — dry hacking cough

Living conditions or something in the throat

Check the bedding to make sure it’s clean. Hogs regularly foul their nests which can lead to coughing. If the hog is indoors it can also be caused by an atmosphere that’s too dry. We have had some success using a steamer or a jar of water left to evaporate on a radiator.

In severe cases, spraying clean water onto the newspaper on the floor of the cage can help.

Juvenile shed (quilling)

Juveniles shed their first lot of spines and newer, thicker ones replace them. You may see the hog scratching due to irritation in the same way a child will complain when teething.

If there are normal shaped spines on the floor of the cage but no other signs of skin problems such as fur loss or crusting then suspect quilling

If the hog is scratching itself raw then suspect something more sinister (see below).

Spine and fur loss

Fungal infection or Mites

Wear gloves! Hedgehogs don’t pass much on to us but ringworm and mange are two things they can.

Treatments vary from carer to carer. There is an amateur carer regimen on the First Aid pages of Epping Hedgehog Rescue.

Ringworm — Ringworm is a fungal infection not a worm. You can use a combination of Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Cream and Neem Oil which seems to do the trick without any harsh chemicals but it’s messy and it stinks and you have to avoid the tummy or the hog can overheat. The best thing to use is Imaverol which you can get from your vet. Pour over the hog once a day for 4 days making sure it’s soaked all over and allow it to dry naturally. Keep the hog warm.

Mange — Now this one is more of a problem. You will need some sort of Ivermectin preparation to use as a spot-on. Ivomec is a wormer you can only get from your vet, the injectable version can be used applying 1-3 drops on the skin at the back of the neck depending on the size of the hog. You can also get pump sprays for mites but do not use Frontline or any of the other dog and cat sprays as they can cause breathing difficulties.

Round white or grey blobs in amongst the spines or fur

Ticks are blood suckers that attach themselves to hedgehogs, feed until they are full then drop off.

One or two on a healthy hog won’t cause any issues but a large number can. All ticks need to be removed as soon as possible and destroyed to prevent them from breeding.

Removal should be done with a tool made for the job such as a hook, tick tweezers or a lasso to ensure the entire tick is removed and the mouth parts are not left in the skin.

It has been discovered recently that the old method of coating the tick in oil can distress it and cause it to regurgitate its stomach contents into the hog.

Sprays such as Frontline should not be used as the fumes can cause respiratory problems for the hog

Black or deep red jumping insects

Not all hedgehogs have fleas but if yours has, don’t worry. Hedgehog fleas are hedgehog specific, they won’t live on anything else.

Do not use cat or dog fleas treatments, especially the sprays as these can kill the hedgehog as well as the fleas. Johnsons do a pump spray for small animals which can be lightly sprayed on, avoiding the face. It’s remarkably efficient.

Tiny white ‘grains of rice’, individual or in clumps

These are fly eggs and can do enormous damage once they hatch into maggots. If the tiny specs are moving then they’ve already hatched. The eggs and any maggots need to be removed urgently.

It’s a painstaking process as you need to get every one of them off and they can be very difficult to see. We have had success using a tick hook or cat flea comb to comb through the fur and a bowl of dilute Savlon to dip them into. Johnson’s do ear mite drops and these will get any out of the ears.

If the maggots are in the eyes, mouth, anus or genitals then they will need to be flushed out with saline, you may find it helpful to get your vet to do it for you as the animal will need an Ivomec injection to kill off any stragglers.

Treatment for these is URGENT. You cannot wait while you work out how to uncurl the hog. Get it sorted fast and if you can’t do it, find somebody who can.

Falling over — African Pygmy Hogs bred for the pet market in the USA have developed a syndrome called ‘Wobbly Hog’. There is currently (2010) no cure for this. If you suspect that your animal is an APH please quarantine it and seek advice from the APH experts. Under no circumstances must it be allowed to breed as the UK population are currently free of this ↑

Rehydration Fluids — If you do not have ready prepared oral fluids such as Lectade, you can make your own using 1 level Tablespoon of sugar, 1 level teaspoon of salt and dissolve in a litre of warm water. This should be given by syringe very slowly. Do not have the hog on its back during this procedure or it may inhale the fluids and drown.↑

Subcutaneous Fluids — Are injected under the skin. The fluids are dispensed from a sterile bag. Under no circumstances attempt to do this yourself until you have been shown how to do it properly. ↑

The information above is based on the experience of Hedgehog Bottom and is current as at March 2014 but may be subject to change as new methods are discovered. Before performing any invasive treatments on a hedgehog you are strongly advised to seek expert advice and training. Vale Wildlife Rescue run various courses. Details available on their web site or by phone.

Help us to help them

Hedgehog Bottom is run by volunteers. 100% of all donations go direct to the animals. We do not receive Govt. funding nor support from related charities.

Donations are secure via Paypal. You no longer need a Paypal account and can pay by a number of different methods. Anything you can spare will be gratefully eaten.

Hedgehogs & News

Featured Video

African Pygmy Hogs

We care for native wild hedgehogs. Occasionally we get African Pygmy Hogs, bred for the pet market and dumped by the owners. These animals are an entirely different species and need to be treated as such, they cannot survive in the wild.

If you are thinking of getting one, please watch this US infovid first. It is illegal to take one of our native hogs from the wild to keep as a pet. It is illegal to throw a pet hog out into the wild.

Copyright © 2007 — 2020 Hedgehog Bottom · All Rights Reserved | Site by: JBVisions | Consultant Vet — Falkland Veterinary


How to Check and Remove Paralysis Ticks

It’s Spring, which means it is time to take preventative measures to avoid the hard-to-detect TICKS!

Although paralysis ticks can be found all year round, the peak season is spring and summer, when warm weather combines with periods of rain. Before gardening, bush walking, camping or just playing outdoors, make sure tick bite prevention and tick checks are part of your spring routine.

Paralysis ticks are most likely to live in moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded areas (trees, logs, and among sticks) or in grassy areas (such as uncontrolled vegetation and leafy debris). They are especially common in wet forests and temperature rainforests. You’re most likely to come into contact with these ticks during outdoor activities, such as camping or bush walking through leaf litter or long grass. The best method of avoiding ticks is to:

  • Walk in the centre of trails and avoid walking through dense vegetation
  • Tuck your pants into your socks and shirts into pants to prevent the ticks from making contact with your skin
  • Wear light coloured clothing as ticks will be much easier to detect
  • Wear insect repellent containing at least 20 per cent DEET. Insect repellent should be applied to the skin when you know you are entering tick infested areas as it can protect you from ticks for several hours.

Our Training Locations

Did you know Australia Wide First Aid has 18 training locations around Australia? Some of these include:

Daily Tick Check:

After being outdoors, it is necessary to check your body for ticks, even if you have been in your own back yard or familiar environment. The most common areas of your body which ticks tend to infest include;

  • Under the arms
  • In and around the ears
  • Inside the belly button
  • Back of the knees
  • In and around the head and all body hair
  • Between the legs
  • Around the waist

Clothing can also be a carrier of ticks. To ensure all ticks are removed, place your clothes into the dryer on high heat. This will effectively kill any ticks.

Ticks and Pets:

Paralysis ticks normally infest native Australian animals, but can also cause problems when they infest livestock, domestic pets and humans. With an estimated 20,000 domestic animals paralysed every year in Australia, tick prevention has become a major focus for vets and pet owners alike.

To check for ticks on your pet, run your fingers over the whole body of the animal and investigate any unusual lumps. The most common sites of attachment are around the head and neck and under the arms or collar, but they can attach themselves anywhere on the skin. Vital warning signs for impending tick paralysis in pets includes;

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargic
  • Altered bark or meow
  • Coughing
  • Gagging or vomiting
  • Groaning or grunting
  • Altered breathing
  • Wobbliness or weakness

Allergic reactions are the most serious medical condition associated with ticks. These reactions can vary from a mild itching with localised swelling with pain, to a severe and life threatening anaphylatic condition. Unlike most medical conditions, severe allergic reactions may occur within tick stage.

Tick Removal:

The key treatment of tick bite is prompt and complete removal of the tick. Use fine tipped or pointed tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Gently pull the tick straight out with steady pressure. If you have difficulty removing all parts of the tick, Australia Wide First Aid recommends you to seek immediate medical attention. After the removal of the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub or soap and water. It is normal for the tick bite to remain itchy for a few weeks after the initial tick bite. However, if any other symptoms persist, please seek immediate medical attention.



At the moment we only run one course at the Hospital in Beckford, the Vale/BHPS
‘First Aid, Care & Rehabilitation of Hedgehogs’ course.
However, we are planning more educational opportunities in the future.

We can also deliver the course wherever you are in the UK. If you can provide the

venue and can find 20+ people (30 max) interested, we can travel to you.

We can promote the date on social media if you need more people. See below for more details.

If you have a venue that we could potentially use (it must be suitable for up to 30 delegates,

and must have facilities for us to make tea & coffee, a hand-washing area and toilets),

please contact us.

You can purchase various items to help hedgehog carers e.g. copies of our course book,

tick lassos etc, here


The course at Vale Wildlife Hospital runs from 9am until

around 4.30pm and must be booked and paid for

through the BHPS.

Their telephone number is 01584 890 801.

Date of next course at Vale Wildlife Hospital, Beckford:

Monday 6th April 2020 – POSTPONED

Monday 20th April 2020 – FULLY BOOKED – POSTPONED

Monday 18th May 2020 – POSTPONED


  • a brief introduction to Vale Wildlife Hospital
  • legal aspects
  • zoonotic risks
  • initial examination & assessment
  • wounds
  • fluid therapy
  • administering fluids (practical session)
  • worried about green ‘poo’?
  • parasites
  • ongoing care
  • diet
  • release
  • includes a full colour course book containing all the information covered on the day and much more, plus a certificate of course completion.

The course runs at Vale Wildlife in Beckford from 9am until around 4-4.30pm and must be booked & paid for through the BHPS. Their telephone number is 01584 890 801.

Sheffield course 14/01/2020

‘The best CPD I’ve ever done.

Great value for the cost of the day!’

Veterinary Nurse (Course Delegate January 2020)

Prestatyn course 02/09/19

‘Fabulous, informative & brilliantly presented.

I learned so much.

Thank you.’

Course Delegate September 2019

Bedford course 12/01/19

‘Thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Travelled from France to attend & have learnt so much. Jeff & Caroline are fabulous, making one day very informative & enjoyable.’

Course Delegate January 2019


If you are interested in us hosting the course in your area

and can provide a venue etc, please get in touch.

Venues coming up:

Please contact us if you would like to book or follow

the link below to book online:




( CB7 5BL )

Book here



If you are unable to get to us for the course, Vale Wildlife Hospital is now able to come to you!

For groups of 20-30, if you can provide the venue (and tea/coffee/biscuits for tea breaks), we can deliver the one-day course in your area.

Perfect for vets, vet nurses, hedgehog carers, wildlife rescues or anyone who wants to learn the basics of hedgehog rehabilitation.

The course covers the same topics as the course above, including the practical session on fluid administration.

The cost is £85 per person payable in advance, and includes a full colour course book containing all the information covered on the day and much more, plus a certificate of course completion.

Contact Jeff or Caroline on 01386 882288 or email [email protected] for more information.

Dorchester – 15th February 2018

It has been an amazing day of sharing knowledge & networking. This is the second time I’ve attended this course & I cannot recommend it enough for those who wish to learn more about caring for wild hogs. A huge thank you to the Dorset Mammal Group (hedgehog section) for organising today, & to the wonderful Caroline & Jeff for coming all the way from Gloucestershire.


How to Prevent Lyme Disease

Carol Eustice is a writer covering arthritis and chronic illness, who herself has been diagnosed with both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Andy Miller, MD, is board-certified in internal medicine and infectious disease. He is an associate professor at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City.

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disorder in the United States.   It can affect your joints, nervous system, heart, skin, and eyes. It’s transmitted through the bites of certain species of ticks known as black-legged or deer ticks.   Adult deer ticks are about the size of sesame seeds and nymphal (baby) ticks can be the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

Reducing exposure to ticks is your best defense against contracting Lyme disease.   There are a variety of methods you can use to prevent and control Lyme disease.

Avoid Tick Infested Areas

Although generally only about 1-5% of all deer ticks are infected with Lyme disease bacteria, in some areas more than half of them harbor the germs.   More people with Lyme disease become infected during May through July, when immature ticks are most prevalent. In warm climates, deer ticks thrive and bite during the winter months as well.

Deer ticks are most often found in wooded and bushy areas with tall grass and leaf litter, as well as nearby shady grasslands, and are especially common where the two areas merge. They can also inhabit lawns and gardens, especially at the edges of woodlands and near older stone walls.

Because adult ticks feed on deer, areas where deer are frequently seen are likely to harbor large numbers of deer ticks. When you do enter tick areas, walk in the middle of trails to avoid contact with overgrown grass, bushes, and leaf litter. A local park service or health department can tell you which areas are tick infested.

Dress Appropriately

Wearing certain clothing can also help you avoid ticks. Consider these tips:

  • Wear long pants, long-sleeve shirts, and long socks to keep ticks off your skin
  • Wear white or light-colored clothing to make it easier to spot ticks
  • Wear a hat
  • Tie back long hair
  • Wear shoes (no bare feet or sandals)
  • Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and tuck shirts into pants to help keep ticks out of clothing
  • Tape the area where your pants and socks meet to prevent ticks from crawling under clothing
  • Don’t sit directly on the ground or near stone walls

Use Tick Repellents

Spray tick repellent on clothes and shoes before entering areas infested with ticks. Use a repellent with 20-50% DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) on adult skin and clothes to help prevent tick bites.   Although highly effective, repellents can cause some serious side effects, particularly when you use high concentrations repeatedly on your skin. Infants and children especially may suffer from bad reactions to DEET.

If you repeatedly apply insect repellents containing DEET, you should wash your skin with soap and water, and wash any clothing worn as well.

Permethrin is another type of repellent that kills ticks on contact.   It can be found at stores that carry outdoor gear and products. One application to clothing and shoes is typically effective through several washes. Permethrin should not be applied directly to the skin.

Apply Pesticides (Acaricides)

A pesticide designed to kill ticks called an acaricide can be effective in reducing tick populations around your home.   If properly timed, a single application at the end of May or beginning of June (and optionally in September to control adult ticks) can reduce tick populations significantly. Spraying on a large scale, however, may not be economically feasible and may prompt environmental or health concerns.

You may also want to consider safeguarding your home with bait boxes that treat wild rodents with acaricide. Properly used, these devices have been shown to reduce ticks around homes by more than 50%.   The unit does not harm the rodents. The treatment is similar to products used to control fleas and ticks on pets. Bait boxes are now available from licensed pest control companies in many states.

Studies are also being done on the effectiveness of topically applied acaricides to deer at feeding stations. As deer eat, they brush against rollers holding the acaricide. So far, the results have been encouraging.

Check With Local Health Officials

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and your state regulate pesticides.   Check with local health officials about the best time to apply acaricide in your area, as well as any rules and regulations related to a pesticide application on residential properties. You can also contact a professional pesticide company to apply pesticides at your home.

Create a Tick-Safe Zone

Ticks that transmit Lyme disease thrive in humid wooded areas. They die quickly in sunny and dry environments. According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation   (ALDF), deer ticks cannot jump or fly, and do not drop from above onto a passing animal. Potential hosts (which include all wild birds and mammals, domestic animals, and humans) acquire ticks only by direct contact with them.

Following these landscaping techniques can help reduce tick populations around your home, garden, or yard:

  • Remove leaf litter and clear out brush and grass around homes and at the edges of lawns.
  • Place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration to recreational areas.
  • Mow the lawn and clear brush and leaf litter frequently.
  • Keep the ground under bird feeders clean.
  • Stack wood neatly and in dry areas.
  • Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees.

Discourage Deer

There are several actions you can take that may help reduce deer populations   around your home in an effort to help prevent Lyme disease, including:

  • Don’t feed deer on your property. It may be necessary to remove bird feeders and clean up spilled birdseed.
  • Construct physical barriers (deer fencing) to discourage deer from entering your yard.
  • Help control deer with deer-resistant or deer-proof plants.

Check for Ticks

The ALDF says that your best line of defense against contracting Lyme disease is to examine yourself at least once daily and remove any ticks before they become engorged (swollen) with blood.   Perform daily tick checks after being outdoors, even in your own yard.

Spots to Check

Carefully inspect all parts of your clothing, skin, and body, especially in moist areas, including:

  • Armpits
  • Backs of the knees
  • Nape of the neck
  • Navel area
  • Scalp
  • Groin area
  • Buttocks
  • Waist

Remove Ticks Promptly

If you do find a tick embedded in your skin, do not panic. Not all ticks are infected. Furthermore, according to ALDF, studies have shown that infected ticks normally cannot begin transmitting the spirochete (the bacterium that causes Lyme disease infection) until it has been attached for about 36 to 48 hours.  

Keep in mind, if you do find a deer tick attached to your skin that has not yet become engorged, it likely has not been there long enough to transmit a Lyme disease infection.

Remove the tick immediately   using these tools:

  • Small-tipped tweezers
  • Glasses or magnifying glass (if helpful/needed)
  • Gloves or tissue

Take care to follow each of these important steps:

  1. Safety first: Follow universal precautions and wear personal protective equipment, if you have it.
  2. Grasp the tick with the tweezers very close to the skin.
  3. Pull with gentle, constant pressure. Pulling too hard will tear the tick and leave some behind. Take your time. The tick is trying to hold on, but you will win.
  4. Examine the tick to make sure all of it has been removed. Make sure the tick’s mouth parts are intact; it has angled jaws and an arrow-shaped head.
  5. If any of the tick is missing (if anything is, it’s usually the head), seek medical attention immediately to decrease your risk of a potential infection. Don’t call 911, but do go to the urgent care clinic for a same-day appointment.
  6. Save the tick in an airtight container (do not touch it with bare hands). It’s carrying bacteria that can make you sick, even if it doesn’t bite you again.
  7. Watch the patient (or yourself) for several days. If signs of Lyme disease are seen, seek medical help immediately. The first and most telltale sign of Lyme disease is the bullseye rash, known as erythema migrans.

What Not to Do When Removing a Tick

Improper tick removal increases the chance of the tick transmitting infection. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Do not twist, crush, squish, or pull the tick. You run the risk of detaching its head.
  • Do not try to burn the tick. When you heat up a tick with a match, it will probably regurgitate all of your blood (and some bacteria) into your body in an effort to make itself smaller so it can back out. Though you may have more easily gotten rid of the pest, you’ll be more likely to get Lyme disease.
  • Do not try to smother the tick with petroleum jelly, mineral oil, nail polish, or other products.
  • Do not touch the tick with bare skin. It may make you sick.

Dealing With Tick-Infested Skin, Hair, and Clothes

For tick-infested hair and skin, showering and a vigorous shampoo may help dislodge any crawling ticks, though ALDF says this is only somewhat effective. As for clothing, unfortunately, simply washing your clothes will not kill ticks.

Tick-infested clothing should be run through a clothes dryer at a high temperature for 30 minutes or more to kill any unseen ticks.

Check Your Pets

Check pets for ticks before letting them in the house, since pets can carry them in.   These ticks could fall off without biting your pet and then attach to and bite people. Plus, pets can develop symptoms of Lyme disease too.

Monitor Tick Bites

If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely small. But just to be safe, monitor your health closely after a tick bite and be alert for any signs and symptoms of tick-borne illness.

ALDF advises that you monitor the site of the bite for the appearance of a rash that looks like a bullseye for three to 30 days after the bite. If a rash or other early symptoms develop, see a physician immediately.

Though you may have already missed the window for preventing a Lyme disease infection, early diagnosis can help you get early treatment.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you answer «yes» to the following questions, discuss the possibilities of taking antibiotics with your doctor or healthcare provider:

  • Were you in an area where Lyme disease is common when you acquired the tick bite?
  • Was the tick attached for at least one full day?
  • Has it been less than three days since you removed the tick or since it fell off of you?

Although taking antibiotics after a tick bite is not routinely recommended, it may be beneficial for some people in areas where Lyme disease is common.   Your healthcare provider must determine whether the advantages of prescribing antibiotics after a tick bite outweigh the disadvantages.

For deer tick bites in which the tick was on the skin for over 24 hours, a single dose of doxycycline (200 mg) can decrease the chance of Lyme disease.

Lyme Disease Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next doctor’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.

On-the-Horizon Strategies

According to the CDC, other methods for controlling ticks currently under evaluation include:

  • Vegetation and habitat modifications
  • Fungal agents for biological control  
  • Natural extracts that safely repel ticks
  • A vaccine to protect against Lyme disease

The Lyme Disease Vaccine

In December 1998, the FDA approved a vaccine against Lyme disease, LYMErix, which was produced by SmithKline Beecham.   In February 2002, the maker of LYMErix announced that production of the controversial vaccine was being stopped, citing an insufficient consumer demand. CDC reports the protection provided by this vaccine diminishes over time. Therefore, if you received this Lyme disease vaccine before 2002, you are probably no longer protected against Lyme disease.

A New Vaccine Candidate

However, in July 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted fast-track designation to a new Lyme disease vaccine candidate called VLA15. Fast-track designation means that the review of the vaccine will be expedited, with an eye toward earlier availability to the general public. This vaccine was fast-tracked to fight the rapidly growing problem of Lyme disease, which can result in considerable disability and long-term suffering in some.

VLA15 is a multivalent vaccine, which means that it confers protection against more than one strain of Borrelia, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.   More specifically, VLA15 targets outer surface protein A (OspA), which is the most dominant protein in Borrelia transferred by ticks. Because it targets six different types of OspA—representing six different strains of Borrelia—this vaccine has the potential to protect against Lyme disease spread in the United States, Europe, and worldwide.

In light of the vaccine’s fast-track designation, Valneva, the company that manufactures VLA15, has stepped up phase II clinical trials. According to a July 2017 press release, phase I clinical trials involve 180 participants from three sites, two in the United States and one in Belgium.  

In this partially randomized study, the researchers are evaluating the safety and tolerability of various doses and formulations of the VLA15 vaccine. The researchers will determine immunogenicity, or the ability of the vaccine to provoke an immune response, by measuring immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody levels against the six most common strains of Lyme borreliosis in the United States and Europe.


See also:  How a Tick Bite Can Give You a Red Meat Allergy - Consumer Reports
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Symptoms Possible causes Triage/Treatment