Ticks & Lyme Disease
We are at the HEIGHT of tick season. I am getting so many calls, emails and texts from friends, family members, acquaintances and friends of friends who have just been diagnosed with Lyme disease that I have not had time to respond to even half of them. Please protect yourself and your loved ones.
*You can get Lyme in any state.
*You can get Lyme in places you feel safe, even cooking out or gardening in your own yard.
*Per the CDC, more than 300,000 people in the U.S. contract Lyme disease each and every year, but only about 10% of these cases are diagnosed and reported.
*Deer ticks are NOT the only ticks that can transmit Lyme and other vector-borne illnesses, and deer are NOT the only animal that carry ticks. Ticks will feed on any breathing being for a blood meal, including birds and reptiles!
*It is a myth that a tick must be attached for 24 or 48 or 72 hours--or whatever the popular folklore of the day is--to transmit the microscopic bacteria (and viruses, fungi and parasites) that can make you sick. It can happen very quickly.
*Ticks can be so tiny that you may never see the one that feeds on you.
*And ticks release a numbing agent as they feed on you, so you'll likely not feel them either.
*Fewer than 50% of those bitten recall a bull's-eye rash or any other rash but...
*Any kind of rash following a known tick bite is grounds for immediate treatment.
*If you or a loved one has symptoms of the "summer flu," alarm bells should be going off--flu season is typically from November through March, not in the summer. These symptoms are often the first sign of tick-borne illness but so many of us shrug them off to our own detriment.
*Unfortunately, many health care practitioners don't know what they're talking about when it comes to Lyme and co-infections and will likely give you a false sense of security, a misdiagnosis and/or inadequate treatment.*Be proactive and stand up for yourself and your loved ones because...
*Early diagnosis and treatment is key to fully recovering or at least keeping the disease under control but the testing often misses positive cases. In fact...
*False-negatives are so common that a few states have now passed legislation stating that medical practitioners must provide--BY LAW--a written statement that a false Lyme disease test result does NOT mean a patient is negative for Lyme disease! That's how bad the tests are.
*There's controversy in the Lyme community about what adequate treatment is but I know several people who--when they treated early--did very well on a 6- to 8-week course of oral antibiotics.
*Know that if you have Lyme disease, you almost surely have co-infections as well and that they are NOT all treated the same way. Be prepared to do lots of research in order to recover as much as your health as possible. It can be a long, difficult journey but you CAN improve!
KNOW HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM TICKS:
*Though I dislike chemicals, I'd rather take my chances with the insecticide PERMETHRIN than with the multitude of pathogens transmitted by ticks and other vectors. You can spray permethrin (available on Amazon) on your clothing and you can also douse cotton balls in it and then put them in old used toilet paper tubes that you stick in the ground around your yard. Mice will then carry the treated cotton balls back to their nests, which will kill the ticks attached to them (and supposedly not hurt the mice, though I don't really believe that).
PLEASE BE AWARE THAT PERMETHRIN IS POISONOUS TO CATS.
*Also, consider taking the herb ASTRAGALUS, which will not prevent tick bites but CAN help your immune system prevent Lyme disease. It is an herb and the recommended dosage for adults is 1,000 mg/daily. I'm not sure what the dosage is for kids but probably one of you knows and will be kind enough to share that information.*Keep your grass short and your leaves raked. Ticks like to hide in long grass and in leaf litter.
*Have an opossum in your yard? Lucky you--they are TICK-DEVOURING machines! Let the opossum do its job.
*Live out West? Did you know the Blue Belly Lizard has a protein in its blood that not only prevents ticks from infecting it with Lyme disease but can also kill the Lyme bacteria in the gut of the tick? Amazing!
*When engaging in really frightening activities (for those of us who are already infected, anyway), such as hiking or camping in woodsy areas where ticks are particularly abundant, wear light-colored clothing so you have a better chance of spotting a tick crawling on you, and tuck your pant legs (please wear pants and not shorts) into your socks, or, better yet, into your boots.*Do thorough tick checks when coming in from the outdoors, keeping in mind that ticks will "hide" in your hairline, armpits, belly button, groin and behind your ears and knees (though my brother just had one right on his FACE). Again, they can be so tiny that you could be looking right at one but not see it.
KNOW HOW TO PROPERLY REMOVE A TICK:
*Do NOT smother it with soap, Vaseline or anything of the like.
*Do NOT burn it.
*Do NOT crush it.
*All of the above methods can cause the tick to regurgitate the contents of its gut inside of you.
*Instead, use a pair of tweezers or a tick remover to pull a tick straight out.SAVE YOUR TICK TO BE TESTED. There are labs that will test it for FREE for Lyme and several other pathogens as well. If you're lucky enough to actually know you've been bitten by a tick and you have that tick, save it in a plastic baggie with a moist cotton ball or paper towel. Your tick can be dead or alive, but the sooner you send it in to get tested, the better. The BAY AREA LYME FOUNDATION does FREE testing of ALL kinds of ticks: http://www.bayarealyme.org/lyme-disease-prevention/tick-testing/
If you've been mysteriously sick for a while and suspect it may be Lyme, but you can't afford testing through IGeneX Labs, consider getting DNA testing via the lab below. Any medical practitioner can draw your blood and send it in. The test costs $150 and looks for two strains of Lyme disease: http://www.dnalymetest.com/requestatest.html
I could go on and on but hopefully this is enough to help someone. Feel free to share.