Summer, ticks and lyme


To the Editor:

Summer is flying by and the male cicadas can be heard singing out in the search for a mate. I always think hearing the singing cicadas and enjoying garden tomatoes and cucumbers tells us summer is on the downhill. We have been experiencing extended periods of unusually hot and dry weather as our farmers pray for rain. The tick population struggles during hot, dry weather and thrive in warm/cool damp weather. Ticks require moisture to survive and will rapidly desiccate and die in dry conditions. That is why a spin in the dryer is all that’s needed to crisp ‘em to death. This is why it is recommended to place your clothes in a hot dryer for about 10-15 minutes to kill any ticks before washing your clothes.

It is no time to become complacent when it comes to ticks. Ticks can be found almost anywhere and everywhere. It is time areas of high risk were posted to help remind citizens to increase their awareness. Practice preventative measures and dress appropriately, ie cover up. In the heat when not covering up be sure to wear a repellent and reapply as recommended. DEET is a poor tick repellent and others have been found far more effective. Picaridin and other natural repellents are a good choice. Atlantick, an all-natural outdoor spray made in Mahone Bay, is a good choice. At the New Glasgow Farmers Market you can find Natural Edge medical herbalist Connie Cameron who makes an outdoor protection spray to help repel pests you may encounter when out in the green world.

A lint roller can help find ticks crawling on your clothes and a spin in the dryer will kill any missed ticks. It is important to do a complete body check for yourself, your children and your pets. It is recommended to have a shower within two hours of being outdoors and to further check for missed ticks.

If you find an attached tick it can be removed with fine point tweezers or one of the commercially available tick removal devices. It is recommended to save the tick in a zip lock baggie placing it in the freezer and to note the date you were bitten and the location you were at when bitten. The tick can be sent for test depending on what tests you want. Testing for just Lyme the tick can be sent to Lloyd Tick Lab or to Geneticks which has a faster turnaround time and can test for co-infections If you choose to test the tick it is important to include contact information, ie telephone number and/or e-mail address.

It is recommended to see a health care professional and to watch for symptoms that can be different for everyone. An erythema migrans rash is a sure sign of Lyme. Although the bull’s eye rash is better known, it is less common than other types of rashes referred to as atypical rashes. These rashes can be found anywhere on the body, and in many people, approximately 20 percent, no rash appears at all. There are even more people who will not see a rash as it could be under their hair or in a hard to see place. Theses rashes can also come and go and are often thought to be something else. Other early symptoms can include fever, chill, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches that can move around as well as swollen lymph nodes. The list of symptoms for an untreated chronic persistent infection is vast and varied.

If the infection is recognized and treated early at the acute stage it is easily cleared. If the infection if misdiagnosed, undiagnosed or improperly treated it can move into every organ and system of the body with many patients developing chronic arthritis as well as an increase in neurological and cardiac symptoms. A person can end up with persistent lifelong symptoms that can come and go requiring treatment.

It is time Lyme and other vector-borne diseases get the attention they deserve in order to help avoid the burden they are placing on our health care system. Awareness, prevention and proper early treatment is what is needed. Those who have a persistent infection need help in order to achieve the best health they can. Time to move forward.

Education is key!

Brenda Sterling-Goodwin

New Glasgow