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 →
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 →
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 →