Wednesday, June 04, 2008

"Ticks on Cape Cod"

I sometimes blog based on recent Internet searches that lead people to Wellfleet Chezsven Blog. The search, which has appeared the most frequently of late, is “ticks on Cape Cod.” As regular blog-readers and former guests know, I had Lyme Disease three years ago. I did not see the tick that bit me. The doctors had the darnedest time figuring out what was wrong. Since that experience, I have learned a lot about Lyme and ticks in general. Here are a few basic pointers for anyone who plans to vacation on Cape Cod this summer. Deer ticks can carry Lyme disease and/or bacterial infections, which you want to avoid at all costs. Ticks, carrying disease, exist in all but 13 of the United States. I advise guests that ticks are prevalent on Cape Cod, and have reached epidemic proportions on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. These tiny creatures travel on deer, birds, mice, and other warm-blooded wild animals. They are out there, looking for a blood meal. It is best the meal not be you. One way to deter ticks is to use bug spray while outside. I also do a thorough tick check every night before bed. They say a tick has to be attached for up to 24 hours to regurgitate the spirochetes or bacteria into its victim, but who knows really? If you find a tick, you should remove it immediately. This year Outer Cape Health offers two pamphlets. The first contains general information. The second provides directions on how to send a tick to IGeneX, Inc., a laboratory in Palo Alto, in order to identify which diseases the tick may or may not carry. Each test costs $65. It takes from seven to ten business days to receive the results. The flyer suggests tick removal with tweezers. “Grasp the tick mouthparts close to the skin. Avoid squeezing the tick, which may spread infected body fluids. Pull the tick straight out. Do not twist. Do not attempt to burn the tick. Wash your hands with soap and water. Apply antiseptic to bite site." This month’s issue of The Cape Cod Voice contains an article about chronic Lyme and the problem that some local doctors are slow to identify Lyme disease. When in doubt, seek second and third opinions, which is what I did. Once the flu-like symptoms had passed, I felt total fatigue, which lasted for months. It is best to get the antibiotic into your system fast, as it is toxic to the spirochetes. If Lyme is diagnosed early, three weeks of treatment should suffice. My case was not diagnosed for two months, so an infectious-diseases doctor, who happened to be an old friend, advised six to eight weeks instead. After a Lyme specialist told me I was cured and I knew I was not completely, I consulted a doctor at Whole Health New England, who said we simply do not know because the spirochetes can hide in your cells. He gave me Transfer Factor Basics and an herb called Cat’s Claw. I do feel better now. This year the Massachusetts Health Department created a sign, which was handed out to local businesses. I display the sign in our kitchen and discuss Lyme disease prevention with every guest, warning them all to take precautions.