LAST SUNDAY, while attempting to put a dent in my lengthy list of garden chores, I went on a weeding-, feeding-, planting-, edging- and mulching-frenzy. My reward for all that work? Well, later that day I discovered a blood-sucking, and possibly Lyme-disease-transmitting deer tick had attached itself to my side. What to do should you find this dreaded Ixodes scapularis embedded in your own skin:
If a tick attaches itself to you, the first step is to remove it. I used common tweezers for the job. The idea is to grasp the tick’s mouthpart as close as possible to the skin, and then pull gently but firmly. Next, disinfect the site. And last but by no means least, call your doctor.
Because I found the insect on a Sunday night, I had to wait until Monday morning to seek treatment. The physician’s assistant saw me immediately. He prescribed two pills of the antibiotic Doxycycline. Research has shown that a double dose of Doxycycline (200 MGs), when administered within 72 hours of the tick entering the skin, can thwart the spread of lyme. Otherwise, a full course of antibiotics will become necessary.
Lyme disease is nothing to sneeze at, folks. Left unchecked it can lead to all kinds of long-term physical ailments. As you might recall, my beloved beagle, Lily, nearly died from the disease. Since then I’ve treated her monthly with “Frontline.” The treatment seems to be working.
You can read more about the deer tick and the bacteria it can carry in this on-line pamphlet from the New York Department of Health. The Department of Health recommends that gardeners (especially those who work in overgrown areas) wear light colored clothing. Then the black tick can be more easily spotted. They also recommend showering immediately after gardening, or after hiking in tick-infested woods.
If you live in deer-tick territory, mind telling me which precautions — if any — you take to protect yourself?
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