Monday, June 4, 2012

Trouble with ticks

Bumper crop of ticks this year. Our dog came down  with a lame paw and was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Family members have unfortunately had tick bites. (I know).We live in a zero-lot-line community with minimal grass, no deer - but - lots of rabbits. Our dog is always trying to dislocate my shoulders eager to pursue these critters.
The term "deer tick" is misleading. Deer, like us humans are incidental hosts. The animals feed, neck bent, in tick infested brush. Deer heads and necks covered with Ixodes is a testament to just  how dense the population of ticks is. not that deer are a necessary part of the equation. Any warm blooded animal (even us  humans) can severe as the tertiary host for adult female maturation.  In my case, rabbits are generally the final host.

The problem is the primary host: the white footed mouse. Newly hatched larvae take feed on mice having  Borrelia swarming through their bodies (and co-infecting organisms)  then morph into nymph forms which are the primary culprit for human transmission.

The 6 legged larvae become the  8 legged nymphs, well equipped for the job at hand. They can move very quickly and then lie still, perched for action, sniffing out the carbon dioxide and body heat of their next unwitting meal.

When we pull off an adult tick we don't  really know how many others smaller forms may have attacked us unseen. The issue of how long the tick needs to be in place in order to transmit Lyme disease may be a moot point since most tick bites are never seen.

Some have suggested that most of the ticks are not infected and that we need not worry so much. Informal data from Clongen labs indicates the infection rates may range from 30-70 percent depending on the time of year in our area.

Any effective prevention programs must focus on  effective ways to kill the ticks and perhaps the mice if possible. Thinning out deer populations, as some have suggested, will be of no help.

As for my bunnies, their population does thin out - spring to fall - meals for predators like our fox. Unfornuately, the fox become the next host for the stubborn ticks.


T9im said...

Hi Doc:

Thanks for posting. I live up in CT and grew up maybe 40 miles from Lyme, CT.

Agree we have to control the mice and ticks.

I never remember seeing a tick growing up, graduated from High School in 1972 and was in fields and woods all the time.

It may be a coincidene but DDT was banned in the U.S in 1972, 3 years before Polly Murry brought the Lyme cases to the State Board of Health.

Now in 2012 I see ticks crossing sidewalks (one anyway a week ago), never mind in the garden (new town and direction but still around 40 miles from Lyme).

It is only getting worse and the policy to under report and under diagnose continues. Dr. Wormser was just saying "only" 20,000 cases a year. There are probably 1,000 in my town alone.

Our daugher comes off medications tomorrow.

You and the other LLMD's provide a great service. Thank you for the stories and postings.


Lyme report: Montgomery County, MD said...

No good deed goes unpunished

doglick said...

I live in southern Maine and have about the same level of infected ticks here. It simply isn't possible to reduce the ticks and vectors to a 'safe' level.
Any money thrown at such a project is simply wasted. Deet, the active ingreedient in most bug repellent simply doesn't work.
All the propaganda of wearing "long clothes" and "insect repellent" is wasted money. With around 50% of the ticks infected it is a wonder we are not all sick.
If %50 of the ticks carry the disease, I get bitten only 4 times a year (more like 10 or greater.) I've lived here for 40 years, I have a %99+ chance of contracting the disease during my lifetime. Wormser is either lying or a complete idiot. You pick.
Keep posting Doc, I really enjoy your words.

livingbygrace said...

Hello, my husband is an entomologist. Oh the trouble he had with Dr after Dr believing that he had been bit by a tick, in the winter, in southern Maryland, and that he could have rocky mountain spotted fever, 30 years ago! As he gave up, I called a family friend, a Allergy/Dermatalogist Dr in Silver Spring, who was willing to see him. He knew by seeing him and his symptoms, way too much time had gone by and began the treatment immediately. He got better, but to this day, tick bites cause red streaking from the site of the bite.

He has studied IPM, which is going to be vital in tick control. We have seen a huge rise in ticks the past couple years. Last year they were so bad, we had them hatching out in our house from a stray escapee, maybe hiding under furniture or the woodwork.

Thank you for what you share here!!!!!!!

Wright Brood Mama said...

How does one get an appointment with you? I am pregnant with Lyme and Rickettsia that has not been properly treated. Thanks!

Unknown said...

As I have researched rates of infection, I haven't found consistent or meaningful testing of nymph ticks. Most surveys only check adults. In CA, the main vector is also a field mouse with nymphs being infected at far higher rates than adults, up to 40% in some places.

The statement that only 1% of tick bites results in an infection is unsupported by any evidence I can find. I think soembody made that number up to continue to insist that Lyme is rare.

KMH,Mt.PilchuckLyme1985 said...

Washington State is finally doing a tick sweep but it is volunteer and not being publisized whatsoever. Any ideas as to get this going so a fair sweep can be done?

Where does one go when there is no where to go and you are sick as heck from chronic disseminating late stage Lyme since 85? No insurance and wife just left and took it all.Family does not believe and friends all gone. So where does one go when all the symptoms are on high?

livingbygrace said...

Read Bruhners book on Lyme, I am in a similar condition in that dr after dr gave me the run around, I was given pain pills 20 in January the doctor said, through his office, yhey won't give me any more. Those were the only ones they have given me and they treat me as if I'm a druggy, I've been given pain pills in the past for minor surgeries and this pain is so bad right now it's making me cry. Thanks alot to drug addicts that abused meds so legitimate needs aren't met. My son in law is from Washington state and we think he just got Lyme. Bit in arm pit 4 days ago and he's flu like, arm is shaking and he is dizzy. Good thing is antibiotic for a early case should work!! If I can offer you any help, try the cats claw and it doesn't need to be the expensive type, Bruhners book says any kind, garlic tabs, and dandelion for your liver. Since you can't afford care, try doing yourself, look it up online. I pray you get relief, hoping I will too, just discovered this site.

Agnes said...

Hi LymeMD! Thanks so much for the stories and the comments! I caught Lyme only a few weeks ago on a backpacking trip in New Hampshire, but I'm already it possible to visit you in your office? I'm working in cancer research in Montgomery County, so distance is not a problem.

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