Be Wary of Lyme Disease This Summer
WARNING: The following information may discourage you from venturing outdoors this spring, summer, and fall. Proceed (in both reading this and going outside) with extra special caution.
Lyme disease lurks outside your door. And the alarming statistics about the growing problem here in Maine don’t fully portray the extent of the problem - because this debilitating disease usually goes undetected in medical tests and doctor’s visits.
My friend Harry Vanderweide, the longtime editor of The Maine Sportsmen and probably the state’s best known sportsman, is exhibit A. He has Lyme disease – and it has never been proven in over two-years of tests.
Last year nearly 1,000 cases of Lyme disease were confirmed in Maine. I won’t hazard a guess as to how many cases went undetected and unreported, but I’ll bet it dwarfs that number.
Deirdre Fleming, outdoor reporter for the Portland Press Herald, wrote about Lyme disease recently, and I recommend that you read her columns.
While I don’t have Lyme disease, I’ve battled the possibility for years, as a person who spends a great deal of time outdoors. Spring turkey hunting is especially bad, because we often sit on the ground, under trees, in woody debris. But you can pick up a tick almost anyplace.
Last spring, sitting in a legislative hearing room, I felt a tick crawling up the back of my neck. Deftly picking it off, I hastened to the men’s room where I squashed and flushed it.
We’ve got a handy tool at home, provided by the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine, that easily extracts ticks that have embedded themselves in your body. You can get this tool in many places. It looks something like a spoon.
I’ve been told that if I get the tick out within 24 to 48 hours, one pill of antibiotic will do the trick. If the tick is in your body longer than that, 10 days of antibiotics are required. I’ve had the single pill twice, and the 10-day regimen twice. And I’m vigilant about checking for ticks.
The problem comes when you don’t detect the tick, and subsequently get the disease. I encourage you to learn all you can about these ticks and Lyme disease, and to perform a comprehensive check for them every time you’ve been outside. And be quick to contact your doctor if you find a tick embedded in your body – and demand the antibiotics.