My wife Linda has had two embedded ticks recently, both of which we removed almost immediately. One was a wood tick and one was a deer tick. But one of the spots, three days later, swelled up, so she visited the doctor yesterday and got a mild antibiotic. Lyme disease is a constant threat these days, and to put it mildly, every tick worries us.
The April edition of Maine Woodlands, a publication of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine (SWOAM), contains a great article by Jeanne Siviski titled, “It’s Tick Season. Get to Know Your Adversary.” Jeanne reports that, “The 5- to 14-year old age group, and those over 65, have been most vulnerable” to Lyme disease. Yikes! I’m in one of those groups.
Jeanne notes that deer ticks has a dark brown scutum, or shield, on their back near the head, a telltale sign. “If the deer tick is infected with the Lyme bacteria,” she reports, “it takes 24 to 48 hours to contract Lyme disease. This is why doing daily tick checks is vital.” We do those at our house.
Lyme is now “Maine’s second most common infectious disease,” said Jeanne, who also reports, “Making yards less inviting to deer tick hosts” is a strategy for limiting your vulnerability. Well, we are not about to eliminate our garden, although we use electric fence to keep out the deer – but they’re still in our yard nearly every night. She also notes that “bird feeders can attract mice, a common host for larval deer ticks.”
A few years ago, after catching 38 mice in our house one winter, I hired Modern Pest Management to limit the mice in our home. And they’ve done a good job of that with their boxes of poison. Jeanne also recommends using permethrin on your clothing, and we just starting doing that last week.
At many of my talks, I show people the Tick-Off spoon that SWOAM sells on their website. It really makes removal of the tick very easy – and it is critically important to get the entire tick out of your skin.
Maine Medical Association
Siri Bennett, the State Epidemiologist at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, had an excellent column in the last edition of Maine Medicine, the quarterly newsletter of the Maine Medical Association.
“The most common early symptoms of Lyme disease,” wrote Bennett, “is… a bull’s eye rash that appears 3-30 days after transmission (seen in about 60 to 80 percent of cases nationwide). Other early symptoms include fatigue, fever, headaches, arthralgia, and myalgia.”
“Antibiotic therapy is effective for the treatment of Lyme disease,” he said. And I really appreciated the list of resources that Bennett provide with his column. Here they are.
Infectious Diseases Society of America treatment guidelines are available at www.cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/43/9/1089.full.
Lyme disease case report forms are available on the web at www.maine.gov/lyme under Resources for physicians.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension Tick ID Lab submission instructions can be found at www.extension.umaine.edue/ipm/tickid/
You can get updates by liking the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MaineCDC
While these resources are provided to members of the medical community, they are also available to you. And the lab at the University of Maine, thanks to our vote in favor of a bond issue for them, will have a new lab available sometime next year to test ticks to find out if they are carrying Lyme disease. That’s an important service for all of us.