An oft quoted dogma currently exists that states you can not get infected with Lyme or the various coinfections that typically come with it if you get the tick off within a window of 24-48 hours.
- A study done on mice showed that at 24 hours every tick had transmitted borrelia to the mice; however, animal studies have proven that transmission can occur in under 16 hours and it occurs frequently in under 24 hours
- No human studies have been done
- No studies have determined the minimum time it takes for transmission Source
A 2018 study by Eisen et al. found the risk of infection increases:
- 10% after a tick has been attached for 48 hours
- 50% after 63 – 67 hours
- 70% by 72 hours
- 90% for a complete feed
Partially fed ticks and spirochetes in the salivary glands
There’s also the issue of partially fed ticks transmitting more quickly:
- http://iai.asm.org/content/61/6/2396.full.pdf Ticks can spontaneously detach – and the authors of this study found that they did so 15% of the time in mice. They also state that about a tenth of questing nymphs appear distended with partially fed sub-adult ticks being common. If you are the tick’s second meal, it stands to reason transmission would be quicker
- This quicker transmission is due to spirochetes presiding in the salivary glands rather than the mid-gut. This 2019 study on Castor bean ticks found the same phenomenon: https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2019/04/26/three-strains-of-borrelia-other-pathogens-found-in-salivary-glands-of-ixodes-ticks-suggesting-quicker-transmission-time/
It’s important to note that ticks typically carry more than just borrelia and transmission times have not been studied for many of these pathogens, let alone the combined effect: https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2017/05/01/co-infection-of-ticks-the-rule-rather-than-the-exception/ and https://www.lymedisease.org/lyme-basics/co-infections/about-co-infections/
- Several studies have shown that the Powassan virus can be transmitted within 15 minutes of tick attachment
- Anaplasmosis and Borrelia miyamotoi can be transmitted within the first 24 hours of attachment, explains
- Partially fed Amblyomma aureolatum (Gulf Coast ticks) have been shown to transmit Rickettsia rickettsii in as little as 10 minutes
Transmission with more than one pathogen is associated with more severe illness and renders antibiotics less effective. Tick Borne Viruses can be transmitted in minutes.
In the following video microbiologist Holly Ahern explains how the 24-48 window myth has been inappropriately used and is keeping people from getting diagnosed and treated.
https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.wordpress.com/2016/12/07/igenex-presentation/? Bob Giguere of IGeneX states a case of a little girl who went outside to play about 8:30a.m. and came inside at 10:30 with an attached tick above her right eye. By 2 o’clock, she had developed the facial palsy. At the hospital she was told it couldn’t be Lyme as the tick hadn’t been attached long enough. They offered a neuro-consult…..
By 4pm she couldn’t walk or talk.
A Lyme literate doctor trained by ILADS met the family in his office on a Saturday, gave her an intramuscular injection of antibiotics and within 2 hours the palsy was gone. He continued her treatment for approximately 4 weeks.