My daughter Rebekah posted a warning on Facebook last week that she’d detected the first of the season ticks on my grandsons. I happened to be writing a piece on ticks that morning when I noticed her post.
You need to take ticks seriously. There are 14 different ticks in Maine. Dog and moose ticks are large. The other 12 are tiny and very similar. The deer tick that carries Lyme disease is now distributed statewide. Seventy percent of the deer ticks in southern Maine have Lyme, while that percentage diminishes as you go north.
I have a lot of personal experience with ticks embedded in my skin and several friends suffering with Lyme disease. If you need to be scared into action, read my review of the book A Twist of Lyme at www.georgesmithmaine.com. Better yet, read the book.
This story is gut-wrenching, raw, hard to read, relentlessly troubling. Subtitled, “Battling a Disease That ‘Doesn’t Exist,” the book is a collection of author Andrea Caesar’s blog posts as she fought the disease with astonishing toughness and determination. But don’t be fooled – there’s no happy ending. Caesar is still alive, and still blogging, but her battle with Lyme will last her lifetime.
The most important advice I can give you is this: Buy a bunch of those small plastic spoons with the slit that can easily extract ticks that are embedded in your skin. Drug stores carry them. While the standard advice is to use tweezers, they don’t always extract the entire tick out of your skin. And it is critically important that you do that.
We’ll be turkey hunting soon, and I will be guaranteed to come home with ticks. If you discover and extract them quickly, you’ll probably be ok. If they are embedded for 24 to 48 hours, you’ll need a single pill of antibiotic. Longer than that and you’ll need a 10 day supply of the antibiotic. I’ve had the single pill twice and the 10 day regimen twice.
Given that many of us live our lives outdoors, it is only prudent to be prepared. Get those spoons today. Put them everywhere. Be prepared.