Well, tick season is here in New England. We all need to protect ourselves with information.
First of all, ticks are most active when it is 55 degrees like a perfect spring day in New England. Just because you dont see mosquitos and other bugs, doesn’t mean ticks aren’t out in full force. In the summer, ticks are in the shade, specifically the weeds, bushes, etc. (Fleas like it hot!)
Second, do whatever you do to protect your yard and pets from bringing them into the house, do personal tick checks when you have been outside (especially on children) and wear long pants/socks when you are in the woods. I am not going to get into the debate between hardcore repellents and natural ones. I think this is a personal choice. The key is to repel them and prevent lyme and the other tick borne diseases.
Third, if you get Lyme disease…protect yourself with information. Lyme disease is hard enough to properly diagnose and many doctors still treat it insufficiently. The life cycle of the tick is 30 days. Veterinarians treat dogs with a course of antibiotics for 28-30 days. Local doctors, including the CDC, recommend a course of treatment of 14 days. I have been told this is NOT long enough. You can imagine my doctors do not like discussing this with me. Now, you are armed with this conflicting bit of information. Do with it what you will.
My experience with Lyme: My husband contracted Lyme when we first moved to Harvard. He was given 10-14 days worth of Doxycylcine. His Lyme symptoms subsided but he was bothered with lingering joint pain. He went to see Sam Donta, MD….THE most well-respected and experienced Lyme specialist in the area at the time. Dr. Donta explained that 14 days was not long enough and that once you stop taking the antibiotics, the remaining virus hides in the cells where it can no longer be reached. Consecutive courses of antibiotics will not help. In order to further the treatment, seriously harsh drugs must be administered to the patient to “open” access to the cells then treat with antibiotics for an extended amount of time. Dr. Donta explained that this course of treatment is so harsh that most patients choose to live with the lingering Lyme. My husband tried the treatment and couldn’t take it. However, Dr. Donta and many other Lyme specialists have been able to successfully treat Lyme disease. It is always best to treat it right from the beginning if you have the chance.
I have also heard from other people who were misdiagnosed and they were told they were crazy and needed therapy, only to discover they were suffering from Lyme the whole time. I am sure many of you could write your own story here. If this is you, please don’t give up. Keep searching!
Also, keep in mind that children do not always manifest symptoms of Lyme disease like adults. They do not always get the bulls-eye and many times the virus mimicks other diseases. When in doubt, rule it out!
Check out this list of Lyme symptoms from the Lyme Disease Association click here.
Now, I am seeing lots of posts on Facebook about a new tick borne virus that’s reaching Connecticut called the Powassan virus. According to the this CBS news report (Powassan CBS), Powassan is similar to Lyme but more severe and there is no treatment, other than supportive care.
This does not bode well for the folks in New England. It’s hard enough to get treated properly for Lyme, can you imagine if you get this new disease?
PREVENT, PREVENT, PREVENT!!!
For more information on ticks and the diseases that they carry you can go to the CDC and read their handout on tickborne diseases.
My favorite websites for cutting edge information on Lyme are the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) and the Lyme Disease Association. They have been on the forefront of Lyme information and treatment for as long as I have been researching it.
Also the University of Rhose Island has a great website about ticks, how to identify, treat, remove, etc; including the ability to send them a picture of a tick and they will identify it for you. Check out URI’s Tickencounter for more information.
If you live in New England, you need to be armed with the most current information on tick borne diseases. If in doubt, ask to be tested. Lyme should always be ruled out when you get sick in the warmer temperatures or if a diagnosis is not definitive.
Stay safe this Spring…Keep those ticks away.
To find out current tick activity, click here.