Saturday, July 05, 2008

Update: Ticks on Cape Cod

To illustrate today’s blog, more photos of the parade, after the onslaught of requests received overnight. Unfortunately, I have no more photos of Caleb, whose crew won an award this year. Here, Smokey the Bear warns about forest fires. Fire is one way to eliminate ticks in a lawn. However, setting fire to a lawn is an option the Wellfleet Fire Department would probably oppose. Yes, the subject today is a more serious one: ticks on Cape Cod, another frequent blog search. Regular blog readers know that I had Lyme disease three years ago and that this year the Massachusetts Department of Health handed out laminated Caution Tick Habitat signs to businesses here. A guest this past week was a medical student, with access to special online services. She volunteered to search for the latest information on Lyme for me. In a recent article from the Mayo Clinic, I learned that only 50 to 70% of Lyme patients recall a deer tick bite, leading one to believe often the tick was very small, larva or nymph. (I had a deer tick on me the other day. It was so small I thought it was a scab but did not remember a scab at that place on my arm, so I picked at it, and sure enough, the scab had tiny legs. Now, if the ticks were as big as this funky blue fish, at least we would be able to see them!) Even smaller is the spirochete which requires up to 36 hours after a bite to migrate from the tick gut to the salivary glands. This is why it is important to check one’s body every day and remove any ticks found immediately. In 2005, over 23000 cases were reported to the CDC, most in New England and the Great Lakes region. (I believe many, many cases go unreported.) Finally, I discovered the CDC awards more than 3.5 million per year for new research on Lyme disease.