Ticks. Calvert County, Maryland.
by Kathy Meyer
Virginia Governor’s Task Force on Lyme Disease 2010-13 and
Co-leader, Parents of Children with Lyme Support Network, DC Metro Area
“…The physician cannot rely on a laboratory test or clinical finding at the time of the bite to definitely rule in or rule out Lyme Disease infection, so must use clinical judgment as to whether to use antibiotic prophylaxis. Testing the tick itself for the presence of the spirochete, even with PCR technology, is helpful but not 100% reliable.
An established infection by B. burgdorferi [the bacteria that causes Lyme] can have serious, long-standing, or permanent, and painful medical consequences, and be expensive to treat. Since the likelihood of harm arising from prophylactically applied anti-spirochetal antibiotics [taking antibiotics to kill potential infection] is low, and since treatment is inexpensive and painless, it follows that the risk benefit ratio favors tick bite prophylaxis.”
-Dr. Joseph Burrascano, the longest-treating physician for Lyme in the U.S.
As the weather warms, there is justifiable panic in the question, “I just found a TICK on me, so what do I DO?!” Continue reading
This video from the TickEncounter Resource Center in Rhode Island is a hoot!
How many of you are surprised?
This graph is frightening: Our boys and girls are most at risk. I’m guessing that’s because they spend so much time exposed to ticks: playing outside, playing sports on grassy fields, and rolling around with beloved pets that may be carrying infected hitch-hikers.
Bear in mind these are the reported cases at the moment; many experts believe overall numbers are much higher due to under-reporting and testing that is 50% inaccurate. I bet there’s an update soon from the CDC’s current number of 300,000 reported cases year.
We need prevention, prevention, prevention—and we need solid diagnostic testing and treatment. What can we do? Raise awareness by writing local and federal government reps and newspapers. Take what we learn to our primary care docs. Advocate for research funding.
Kids should not be disabled, losing out on school, friends, family time, music lessons, sports, first dates, homecoming and more because of a preventable illness.
My friend Mickey gave me this magnifying glass cleverly disguised as a necklace. Note the thin tweezers for grasping the tick close to the skin, and the sesame seed next to the largish-sized nymphal tick.
Last week, I had just pulled out of my brother’s driveway in the gorgeous countryside on the outskirts of Middleburg, Virginia, when I felt an itch on my ankle. I looked down and saw a teensy tick clinging on by its mouthparts. Wrenching the steering wheel, I pulled over in a blind panic. Using my fingernails as tweezers, I grabbed it as close to the skin as I could and got it off.
Chanting “Be calm, be calm,” I got out of my car and scanned the parts of my body I could see. There on the back of one leg was a larger tick. I struggled with that one but got it off, too.
Making a U-turn like I was in a movie getaway scene, I tore up John’s driveway, jumped from the car and ran into his house. I shouted out what I’d found as I headed for the bathroom, stripping off my clothes as I went. Continue reading
What’s happening to the tick life cycle?
The month of May brings many things, among them Mother’s Day, tulips, and Lyme Disease Awareness campaigns. But according to Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at Cary, if we want to get a leg up on tick-borne illness we need to become vigilant earlier in the season.
Source/Learn why here: Time to Move Lyme Disease Awareness Month to April?
This graph from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives a clear picture of what’s ahead for summer: plenty of potential for tick bites transmitting Lyme (and other nasties).
You cannot be too careful; there’s no such thing. A friend told me the other day that his mom’s hairdresser found a tick in her hair. Thankfully it had not bitten her yet.
She has an indoor cat and doesn’t generally spend much time off sidewalks, so you can see that this health threat can be tough to avoid.
I’ve heard that 50% of ticks around here are infected. The odds are not good. We’ve got to be vigilant all year long, even in winter, but never more than in May thru August.
Staying on boardwalk trails at Great Falls National Park in Virginia.
I’ve been thinking about the day I went hiking in a gorgeous old chestnut forest in Southern Maryland that is protected by a local land trust. Volunteers keep the trails beautifully manicured, with small limbs trimmed back and mulch on the paths.
This was my first long walk in years; treatment had finally gotten me to a place where I figured I could handle it without crashing.
I felt I was relatively safe from ticks there, keeping out of underbrush, not brushing up agains branches. My boots and clothes were treated with bug-killing permethrin. I really looked forward to rambling about for an hour or so of fresh air, soaring trees, and bird song. Judging from the way he pranced along, my dog Mo was pretty excited, too.
When I got home I did all the necessary things: Stripped, threw everything in the dryer on hot for 20 minutes to kill any ticks, took a shower, washed and dried my hair, checked my body.
It wasn’t until the next morning that I found a tick sucking on my leg. Who knows where it came from. Perhaps from Mo; my vet tells me no tick-killing products for pets are 100% effective.
It’s a myth that it takes at least 48 hours to become infected—more like a matter of hours. So I knew enough to call my Lyme doctor, who immediately increased my antibiotics (I was recovering from a tick bite more than two years before and still on meds). But it was already too late. Continue reading
That’s the little portable pump for my IV drugs. Then there were the pills. More pills. Harsh meds that made me sicker so I could get better. I can’t believe I made it through all that. When it could have been avoided…
It’s 2016, and I’m finally climbing out of the Lyme hell I fell into blindly four-and-a-half years ago. If only I’d known more, sooner.
Maybe I can help someone, somewhere, by offering a few things I was shocked to learn. Frankly, it is damned hard to pick just 10 things. But here goes: Continue reading