Lyme Disease May Not Kill You – But You’ll Wish It Had

I hope you will excuse this interruption of our usual business mapping blog for a short public service message.  Spring finally reached the state of Maine yesterday and many of us winter closeted Mainers spent the day outside watching snow melt away, sitting in the sun, and beginning work on our gardens.  However, I am well aware that with spring and the joy of outdoors comes the extremely serious danger of catching Lyme disease.  I know because I’ve come down with it twice – two years in a row.

Learn more on the Lyme tic here: http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/life_cycle_and_hosts.html

Symptoms are many and vary from person to person. My year one symptoms were different from year two.  Both times I felt like crap but I got the rash only in year two. For me the list included:  trouble staying asleep, aches, fever, itching, overwhelming fatigue, headaches, a stiff neck, and ear-ringing.

As I mentioned, last year’s bout included a rash but it didn’t seem to match online descriptions. I was slightly achy and I had that stiff neck.  I really didn’t think I was sick but symptoms persisted for three weeks.  I went to my doctor apologizing for being paranoid and asked him to check me for Lyme. It came back positive.  I could easily have attributed the symptoms to growing old, a cold, or some other low level reason.

One of the very real dangers of Lyme is that it is very difficult to test positive for. Often the diagnostic tests are inconclusive. The only cure is prescription antibiotics so make sure to have a serious talk with your doctor if you suspect Lyme.

Get Proactive

Tics are most active April through September. In the past I haven’t been proactive enough at preventive measures. But this year I’ve already started:

  • Spray your pants, shoes, socks, hat with Permethrin available at outdoor stores like Cabellas or on Amazon.com. Evidently this stuff both repels and kills tics
  • Buy a pair of pre-permeated Permethrin ankle chaps and wear them religiously – well not at church maybe but always when working outside
  • Other repellents include 20 to 30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) but only last for a few hours
  • Take showers when done with your outdoor activities
  • Check yourself for those small tics
  • If you feel a slight tickling in one general area over and over get out of those clothes and shower. Run the clothes through a high heat dryer cycle to kill any tics. This happened to me and I’m pretty sure I could have prevented my second case if I’d reacted.

Here’s a map of the 2013 reported Lyme cases: http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/maps/map2013.html

Enjoy your spring and summer and take precautions to avoid Lyme disease.

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