Ann Roberti, CMC board member
Many of us are grateful for the comfort we find in nature during this very disturbing time, and we feel fortunate that we can escape the coronavirus while we walk in the woods, getting exercise and emotional relief at the same time. But I want to remind you that the woods we love have their own dangers and we need to be vigilant here as well. I’m talking ticks.
I will admit from the start that I had been a little too cavalier with my tick prevention. When it was time to reapply the permethrin to my clothes, I sometimes put it off. I sometimes forgot to tuck my pants into my socks. I didn’t always shower right after my hikes. I got way into the leaves trying to clean up my rock garden bed. This past October, I paid the price. I thought I had come down with a killer early flu, with an awful headache, whole body aches, terrible fatigue and a really high fever. I waited a week to go to the doctor, where they did bloodwork and found that my white blood cells and platelets were nearly non-existent. My liver and spleen were enlarged and my liver function was not good. I was put on IV antibiotics and admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of ehrlichiosis. I remembered having a tick attached to me a week or two before, but it hadn’t been there long, it wasn’t engorged and I removed it easily and completely – no bull’s eye, no rash, not even a bump where it had been. Not sure if that was the perpetrator or some unseen tick, but whichever it was, it was bad. Thankfully, the hospital recognized my situation as a tick-borne illness right away and the IV antibiotics started making me feel better right away, but it was an awful experience that I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to go through. I know others have had it even worse.
Ticks are active already – in fact, they are active even through the winter if the temperature is above freezing and snow isn’t covering the ground. So don’t be like last year me, take your tick prevention seriously.
- Use a chemical repellent with DEET, permethrin or picaridin.
- Wear light-colored protective clothing.
- Tuck pant legs into socks.
- Avoid tick-infested areas, when possible (are there any? I’m not so sure)
- Check yourself, your children, and your pets daily for ticks and carefully remove any.
- Remove all hiking clothing and shower as soon after your outing as possible
P.S. Bob Moses, Another CMC board member just found a tick attached, got the bull’s eye rash and is on doxycycline right now.