- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Lyme Disease-What You Don't Know Could Kill You.
Adult Deer Tick
It's that time of the year once again, in most parts of the country. And as soon as the temperatures begin to climb over fifty degrees or so, those creepy crawlers of all shapes and sizes, begin to emerge from their wintering hiding places. Whether it be from within a crevice of some log or rock, or even beneath a clump of old dead leaves.
Our friends of spring and summer are Beginning to creep and crawl and in great numbers. Those with eight legs and others with a hundred or so. Some smooth, some fuzzy and some carrying with them, bacterial diseases that can make us sick.
Enough with the insect talk now, because I'm sure you're all beginning to squirm around, at this The very mention of bugs. But really it's no laughing matter, as you will see as you read further about this one particular bug, called the deer tick that can make you very ill from its bite. Deer ticks belong to the family-(Ixodidae). Fleas, spiders and bedbugs also belong to the Ixodidae family as well. In addition this is a family of bugs often referred to as Arthropods.
The geograhical distribution for deer ticks is as follows-Northeast, from Massachusetts to Maryland. On the west coast, mainly in the Northern California regions. And to add, deer ticks can be found in the north central states. Basically regions that are the most endemic or prevalent for deer ticks and Lyme disease, are the more temperate areas in the northern hemisphere.
The sometimes frightening thing about being bitten by a deer tick, which can carry Lyme disease, is that you can be bitten by one and never know it. In other words these ticks can be somewhat elusive, not only because of their relatively small size, but also because you can hardly feel them crawling across your skin.
Another factor that comes into play here, is also not being able to see the tick that bit you in the first place. These two issues alone can make it difficult to diagnose Lyme disease. The deer tick that carries Lyme disease for one, is no bigger than a quarter of the size of your fingernail. In fact deer ticks that are in the larvae or nymph stage are sometimes called seed ticks. Because they are just as small or smaller than poppy seeds for example.
Secondly, there is often a large, red bulls eye rash that signifies that you do have Lyme disease or a lyme infection going on. However not everyone who has been bitten by a deer tick, develops this bulls eye rash on the part of their body, where they had been bitten. This bulls eye rash is often referred to as (Erythema Migrans).
The transmission of tickborne diseases to humans, usually occurs after a tick has finished engorging itself on blood. In other words after or near the end of its meal. It is also important to make mention here, that if you suspect you had been bitten by a deer tick. It is always a good rule of thumb to get to your physician, particularly within 48 to 72 hours. This is the timeframe in which a deer tick, if it is carrying Lymes, can pass it over to a human.
It is always better to be safe than sorry especially when dealing with any type of ticks, that can carry disease. A blood test will not always confirm you have Lyme disease either. It may take a week before it shows up in your system. But if a positive test result for Lyme disease does show up, your physician will give you a more comprehensive test, that will definitely confirm the disease. This is a Lyme-ELISA test called a Western Blot.
Deer ticks carrying Lyme disease which was first discovered in the United States in 1975, in Lyme Connecticut to be exact; can also carry a disease called Ehrlichiosis. Ehrlichiosis was discovered back in 1985. It is clinically similar to Rocky mountain spotted fever, but presents slightly different manifestations of the illness.
I will discuss rocky mountain spotted fever in more detail, within a separate article, highlighting other tickborne diseases which are carried by the brown dog tick. Mainly for the reason that there is just too much information to covey about one tick, in this article alone. However like Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis can also make you very sick.
I for one should know, because approximately ten years ago, I had to check myself into a local hospital, because of a very high fever that I had developed in mid-summer. The infectious disease doctor on staff, had confirmed that I had been bitten by a deer tick, that was carrying not only Lyme disease, but Ehrlichiosis in addition.
This was a double whammy for me to say the least. The ironic thing about this is, that I never had a Bulls eye rash on my body or never noticed a tick embedded anywhere on me for that matter. After being on Intravenously fed antibiotic for a straight week in the hospital, I will never forget my experience when I checked out. And to this day, consider myself very fortunate to have had a great physcian who made an accurate diagnosis at that time.
Not to worry any individuals reading this article, but it has also been suggested during past research, on various insects belonging to the Arthopod family. That in addition to deer ticks, it is a possibility that fleas and even certain types of spiders could be (Vector's), carriers of diseases that also can make us sick as well. So just be aware of that when walking about in unfamiliar environments. Spiders, fleas or even bedbugs could carry Ehrlichiosis as well.
If you suddenly develop an abrupt and sudden fever, sometimes accompanied by a severe headache, do not rule out Lyme disease. This is usually how the disease generally starts off. And on top of that if it is in the summer time and your generally feeling unwell, than get to your doctor right away for a check-up. Lyme disease often mimics or copies other diseases. Chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis and season flu, to name a few.
Lyme diseas, commonly presents flulike symptoms. (ie.) Muscle weakness, extreme fatigue, achiness, chills, slight to moderate fever and headaches. These are all indications that you have a flulike disease going on in your body. And once again, Lyme disease could be the culprit in this case. Disease or illness such as the influenza virus. Most people know is prevalent during the fall and winter months.
So if you're getting symptoms during the late spring through summer season, than you can pretty much conclude that it is not a summer cold or the flu, but something else. In late stage Lyme disease, it is not uncommon to develop-Lyme arthritis, encephalomyelitis and even peripheral neuropathy.
The good news is that Laboratory blood tests will quickly confirm your illness.Leukopenia for example, (low white blood cells), Thrombocytopenia (low platelet counts) and an elevation of hepatic or liver enzymes, in addition to having mild anemia, usually signify or tell the Doctor that you most likely have either Ehrlichiosis or Lyme's.
And the best news of all, is that there are medicines that can kill the invading bacteria and/or viruses that are making you ill. In most cases, your physician will start you on a regimen of Doxycyline capsules, if he or she suspects Lyme disease.
If you are a pregnant mom and develop Lyme disease, something that is possible; especially if you have a pet dog or cat for example. Ticks can and will fall off of your pets and end up on you. To add dogs and cats are also not exempt from Lyme infections. Generally Erythromycin, is the antibiotic of choice given to pregnant women.
Amoxicillin is reserved for children who develop Lyme disease, because of its safety profile. Medications similar to amoxicillin are given to children and pregnant women for this reason. Are in turn more efficacious and cause less adverse events or reactions. Other types of antibiotics-Penicillin, Doxycycline and Cephlasporin are given to adults.
The best means of preventing becoming a victim of Lyme disease, is by employing a few simple steps. For starters, if you are outside in wooded areas, or fields where there is tall grass, take a good shower as soon as you get back indoors. Scrub and examine yourself from head to toe.
The small ticks, about the size of a sesame seed, that I previouly mentioned; are very small and much of the time, if one is crawling on any part of your body, you will not know it, unless you feel them walking across the hair on your arms.. However this may not apply to the women in the audience, who for the most- they usually do not have a lot of hair on their bodies, as men do.
Ticks can hide in places that you would least likely expect them to be in. Check areas such as behind the folds of your knees, in and around your belly button area and around and behind the ears. In addition under the armpits and around the groin area as well. These are all places that deer ticks like to migrate to.
Mainly for the reason that these areas are more apt to have an ample supply of blood, for ticks to gorge themselves on. For some reason ticks can sense the areas across the body where it is warmer, due to more blood flow to these areas, as just mentioned.
If you happen to find a tick that is embedded beneath you skin. Do not try to pull the tick straight out, but employ the following method- With a pair of tweezers, grasp the tick firmly against the skin. Pulling gently and firmly outward and away from the skin. Make sure that if the tick is embedded beneath your skin on an angle, than pull it out with the tweezers on the same angle it is found beneath the skin.
Doing this will minimize the chances of leaving the mouthparts of the tick, embedded under the skin. It is the mouthparts of the tick, which harbors or holds bacterial diseases, like the Lyme spirochete. Afterward place the dead tick in a vial of alcohol. Saving the tick and taking it to the physician with you, may be able to reveal through lab test, if the tick is carryingLyme's.
If after inspection of yourself after coming in from an area, that may be heavily infested with ticks, does not reveal any, than for the most part if you had any ticks on you, they may have come off in the shower. It is even better to prepare yourself in advance, if you intend to go hiking in areas for the day where ticks could be.
Wearing the proper clothing, which includes light-colored Khaki, or white pants and a long sleeve shirt is a good start-try to avoid shorts, no matter how hot it is outside. Also make sure that your socks are pulled up over your pant legs. Placing the cuffs of your pants firmly within the socks and wrapping some duct tape around them, will help with the adhesion process. By doing this, you do will not invite any ticks that may get on you, to be able to enter up and under your pant legs.
I also want to point out, that ticks do not jump off of trees or even plants onto an individual, or animal. Believe it or not, some folks believe this is how some ticks end up on them in the first place. The only way that you pick up ticks, like a dog would for example, walk through an are--a field, marsh etc... where they are in numbers. If you brush up against various grasses and reeds than you are more likely to pick up ticks in this way.
So don't keep looking back over your shoulder to see if you are being followed by one. This can do nothing but make you, not only a little crazy, but also paranoid about ticks in the first place. Studies of ticks in Northern California have shown that the most common way that these arthopods end up on you; is by sitting on a log in the the woods. So if your out in the woods or on a hiking path, it is better to keep moving and try to avoid logs, as is suggested here.
Spraying your clothes, with a good insect repellent, like deep woods off, or similar product will help deter ticks as well. Today most of the formulations used in insect repellents are non-toxic. But if you are unsure, better to spray the outside of your clothes first, before putting them on.
Do this after you have taped up the cuffs with duct tape, to keep them adhered to your socks. Or just simply tuck your socks neatly within your pant legs, as I mentioned earlier. To some individuals this may seem quite ridiculous or even a lot of extra work for nothing. But believe me taking these kinds of precautionary measures while in areas that deer ticks may be in, is well worth the extra efforts.
In summary, you have to remember, that deer ticks, which belong to the family Ioxididae, can carry not only Lyme disease, but other bacterial diseases in addition. Just remember that ticks can make you sick! and as a result, you could wind up in the hospital, or much worse - a Lyme infection from a deer tick could kill you. Never underestimate the size of the tick. Some people may think along the lines that...How can a bug as small as the tick, make me ill?
If you think along these lines, than this is poor reasoning on your part. Its not so much the tick, or its overall size that can make you ill, it is the bacterial disease, or virus it carries, that can affect your entire well-being. So a little knowledge can go along way, when it comes to dealing with ticks and tick related illness'.
Now that you are armed with that extra bit of knowledge absorbed from this article. Get out there in the great outdoors and take that walk in the woods you have been itching to take all season long. Without having to worry so much about being bugged out by deer ticks.