~ Tick Crazy? ~
We now live in the heart of tick country. Years ago we never even saw a tick in Dutchess County, NY , but in the past few years tick-borne Lyme disease has reached epidemic proportions. This is not just in New York state, but people have contracted Lyme in Connecticut, Massachusets, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Two other diseases are carried by the same tick, - and yes, - Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis have both been found around here, right here in our section of New York state, as well as Martha's Vineyard and other areas of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and even in the mid-West. Other ticks can transmit other diseases, about which I am much less familiar (e.g. Rocky Mountain spotted fever.)
Suddenly, several years ago, my dogs were coming in the house loaded with ticks. I had to check them over every time they came in and remove the ticks with tweezers. This wasn't easy, the dogs were impatient. Sometimes I missed a few ticks and then we had a more difficult time because the ticks were now embedded in the dogs' flesh and engorged.
We never knew when it happened. At some point Lou was bitten by a tick, but he never developed the usual tell-tale bull's eye rash. His joints were achey, but after all, sore knees are common over 50. We never knew until probably five years later when he was so sick that he was diagnosed with (their best guess) . . ."rheumatoid arthritis, or possibly lupus, - or maybe even T-cell lymphoma."
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I asked them to do a Western Blot test. Sure enough, he tested positive. They estimated he must have had Lyme disease for 5 years or more, because he tested positive over all 25 bands. (2 out of 5 bands positive is the usual tell-tale sign. ) Antibiotics made a major difference, and he recovered, somewhat.
Long-time Lyme disease improves with antibiotics, but your auto-immune system is compromised, and you are left with chronic joint pain, and possibly destroyed knee joints. It can also do heart and brain damage.
I know many of you travel to the Northeast from other states, and are exposed to ticks. Some of you don’t even know about Lyme disease. When you get back home and feel achey, you might overlook it and think you’re coming down with the flu. Sometimes it appears to go away, but the nasty little spirochete is still there, working away, and symptoms reappear later. Now Lyme disease is common in the west, - California and other states, and the mid-west, too.
The Good News
Antibiotics cure Lyme disease if they’re given in the early stages of the disease. These are given by mouth. Later on, with a full-blown case of Lyme borellia, the method of delivery changes; a pic line is inserted into the vein of your arm at the elbow, and goes up through the shoulder almost to the heart.
A daily insertion of Rocephen, a strong antibiotic, is managed with a syringe through the line. After 21 days this treatment is followed by oral antibiotics. I found that giving Lou acidopholus capsules twice a day during the treatment period, and afterwards made a big difference in his digestion and general well-being during this trying time.
To avoid Lyme disease the main thing is PREVENTION. Carry an insect spray containing Deet, and spray your clothing, not your skin. Wear light-colored clothes so it’s easier to see insects. Stay out of long grass and brush areas.
Do a tick-check as you shower. They like to crawl into warm places where skin folds over, - and sometimes the back of the neck. They attach themselves and you won’t feel them feeding. If you rub your hand over your skin, they feel like a little pimple. In the nymph stage they are so small they are hard to see, about the size of a poppy seed!
They can feed for days before you’re even aware of them, and they drop off after feeding and you’ll never know you were bitten. They can be as small as the dot a pencil makes on paper.
We’ve found several ticks on Lou since then, and we've tried different ways of pulling them off. Finally I found this little Tick Remover . I liked it so much I bought some from the manufacturer for resale.
It's simple to use, and is better than tweezers or anything else. It's been tested extensively at Ohio State University and found to be more effective than anything else on the market.
The most dramatic results were not with the adult ticks but with the nymphs .
These tiny immature ticks are real culprits when it comes to disease transmission. They're small, very hard to see and can feed for a long time without being discovered. Nymphs must be removed immediately as soon as they’re found, because of the likelihood of infection. The Tick Remover succeeded in removal of 72% of the nymph ticks it was tested on. Now . . . 72% is not 100% but then again it's not the puny 4% success delivered by the tweezers. The Pro-Tick Remedy performed better than any other tool tested at removal of nymph ticks.
The overall conclusion was that tweezers should never be used for the removal of ticks.
The Tick Remover 5X magnifier, excellent instructions and information on protecting yourself from tick bite and, in the opinion of many experts, the best multi-species tick ID card available anywhere.
The only other advice I can give you is to put one of these Pro-Tick Removers on your key chain, - and if you start having symptoms, see a doctor for a Western Blot blood test, which is still the most accurate test for Lyme. There is another test that is cheaper, and you get the results faster, but it presents many false negatives for people who actually have the disease. I think it's worth waiting 10 days or so for the correct diagnostic results!
Symptoms of Lyme Disease (Borellia)
Severe short-term memory loss.
Tingling or numbness in the extremities.
Hazy or confused thinking.
Inability to hold onto things, (Lou kept dropping the TV remote, among other things. In a year or more we went through 7 remote units. Of course he also dropped tools, keys, dishes, books, pots, etc. )
Belle’s Palsy, especially common in children at the onset of Lyme disease.
Symptoms vary, - Lyme is the great masquerader, it can appear to be many other diseases, If you think it’s possible you have Lyme, instead of something else, a simple blood test will resolve all questions.
Lou and I are reluctant experts on Lyme disease.
I wish Lou never got it.
I wish he didn’t have to go through all the sickness, pain and anxiety.
I wish our state and the surrounding states distributed tick information at tourist stops.
I wish I didn’t have to write this column. (He did, they don’t, and I do have to write this. )
The Tick Remover is the only solution/prevention I can offer you, other than taking precautions and spraying with Deet. Lyme disease is not easy to live with, nor is the aftermath.
For the time being, - sorry - I am deferring selling these removers. In the next week or so I will post a link you can use as a resource, I am trying to cut down my paperwork so have discontinued sales. I am just overwhelmed with paperwork at this time.
PS: When you discover a nymph it must be removed immediately.
To help you identify deer ticks, and dog ticks, look at these pictures.
The changing face as the deer tick engorges
Left to Right: unengorged female, 1/4 engorged, 1/2 engorged and fully engorged.
Because the engorged deer tick is often confused with the brown dog tick, we have included the same photo series so you can compare the two species. Although the shield behind the face appears dark and similar in shape the shorter mouthparts of the brown dog tick are easy to identify. Brown dog ticks seldom attack humans.
Brown Dog Ticks:
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