To the Editor:
Fall is in the air and it is peak season for ticks as they are still out there questing for a blood meal. The nymph ticks are not as plentiful as most have had their blood meal and molted to an adult tick. The adult ticks are looking for a meal and the females will be seeking a mate and a blood meal in order to ripen her eggs.
Tick awareness is important year round as they are active anytime the temperature is above four degrees Celsius. The chance of the black-legged tick being infected is high as they have already had two blood meals increasing their chances. It has been said that there is a 50-50 chance that the tick that could bite you is infected.
The early signs can include an erythema migrans (EM) rash, which can have several different variations. The better known bull’s-eye version is one of the least common. Many do not get, or see, an EM rash. They can be in hard to see places or not visible on darker skin. If the EM is not the bull’s-eye, you may be diagnosed with ringworm, cellulitis, or something else, as many health care professionals are unaware of the different variations of the EM rash. Other early signs can include flu-like symptoms as well as headache, fever, shifting joint pain and fatigue.
Getting treatment for a tick bite varies as to what part of the province you are located and the doctor who may see you. In some areas tick bites are not treated and people are told to monitor for symptoms while in other areas of the province bites are treated. It is time everyone gets proper treatment in order to avoid a possible chronic problem.
Ticks can be sent for testing. 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 ziplock 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 testing depending on what tests you want. Testing for just Lyme, the tick can be sent to Lloyd Tick Lab https://www.lloydticklab.ca/tick-testing.html or to Geneticks which has a faster turnaround time and can test for co-infections https://www.geneticks.ca/. If you choose to test the tick it is important to include contact information ie telephone number and/or e-mail address.
Symptoms can vary with each individual and can be confused with other conditions. There have been some people thought to have COVID and tested negative only to find it was Lyme disease. There is a wide list of conditions that people are told so a differential diagnosis is important. If the reason for a health concern is unknown or you have been given various diagnosis perhaps Lyme should be considered. Chronic fatigue syndrome, colitis, Crohn’s disease, early ALS, early Alzheimers disease, encephalitis, fibromyalgia, Fifth’s disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, infectious arthritis, interstitial cystis, irritable bowel syndrome, juvenile arthritis, lupus, Ménières Syndrome, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, prostatitis, psoriatic arthritis, psychiatric disorders (bipolar, depression, etc.), Raynaud’s syndrome, reactive arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome, sleep disorders, thyroid disease and various other illnesses. There are those who are told nothing is wrong when lab test come back negative. You need to be aware and advocate for yourself as you know when something is not right.
Be aware. Education is key!