Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May 15, 2013

It is the golfing season, which is also tick season.

It’s very important that after your round to thoroughly check yourself and your clothing for ticks. Ticks not only live in the wooded areas, but live in grass areas too. Even if you are not looking for your ball in the perimeter rough, you can still get ticks from the shorter grass.

Humans are accidental hosts. A tick must feed at least three times during its life cycle from larvae, nymph, to adult. In most cases, ticks feed on small mammals such as field mice, rabbits etc, and larger animals such as deer. Humans are just convenient, and become hosts if nothing else passes by.

It takes any where from a few minutes to a few hours for a tick to begin feeding. It makes a cut in the skin and inserts its feeding tube. It then secretes a bonding liquid that helps to anchor it to the host. If left unnoticed, the tick will feed for several days. If the tick has picked up pathogens from the blood of a prior host, it can transfer that pathogen to the new host.

Although a tick can transfer many diseases, the most well known are Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lymes Disease, and Ehrlichiosis. Lymes disease in itself is a very serious disease, and can lead to Rheumatoid Arthritis, Bells Palsey, and MS.

One of the telltale signs that a disease pathogen has entered your body is the presence of a “bulls eye” type rash forming at the site where the tick fed.  Other symptoms are aches and fever – similar to the flu. If you have any suspicion at all that you might have a tick borne disease, see your doctor immediately. If caught early, most of the tick borne diseases can be successfully treated with anti-biotic.

Our Outside Director, Bernie Welcz was diagnosed with Lymes Disease earlier this year. He was treated with a regimen of anti-biotics over a period of six months, including through a pic line in his arm for thirty days. Bernie did not get the rash, but began to have aching knees. First he went to an orthopedist but no knee damage was found. His family doctor ordered a blood test for Lymes and it came back positive, and treatment began immediately. The first round of anti biotics knocked down the disease but did not clear it up. A pic line was put into his arm and another round of more powerful anti-biotics was administered. At this time Bernie is clear, but he goes back for blood tests in four months to check again.

Ticks do need to be taken seriously. It’s best to be proactive and check for them regularly.

*** if you own a dog cat, etc, they too, can be infected by ticks. There are preventative treatments available, but even still, it’s best to check your animal over on a daily basis. They can develop similar symptoms of fever, aches, lethargy, etc. Very recently, one of my horses developed Ehrlichiosis. The vet successfully treated him with a cycle of antibiotics.