Protect Yourself From Lyme Disease 

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Louis Cahill Photography

Louis Cahill Photography

2017 Promises to be a record year for Lyme Disease, here’s what you need to know to be safe.

Changes in the environment and patterns of human population have created a paradise for mice in parts of the US. Their populations have exploded and with them the black legged ticks, which carry lyme disease. In some areas you are at risk for lyme disease just mowing your lawn. Those of us who pursue outdoor activities need to be especially vigilant. Lyme disease is nothing to mess with. It can cause serious life-altering side effects including heart damage.

The media has been full of sensational reports lately, but I’ve seen very little in the way of useful information, other than “check yourself for ticks.” Then I found this story from NPR titled,

“Did You Get Bit By A Lyme-Infested Tick? Here’s What To Do”

I recommend reading the entire article, but below is an excerpt; a five-part checklist for what to do when you think you may have been exposed to lyme disease. Look it over and be careful this summer, especially if you live in a highly affected area.

From NPR-

1. Don’t panic, says Dr. Brian Fallon, who directs the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research at Columbia University Medical Center.

2. Get out the tweezers. “Very carefully, go under the head of the tick with the tweezers and just pull out the mouth of the tick, which is embedded in the skin,” Fallon says.

“What you don’t want to do is squeeze the body of the tick,” he says. “That will cause the tick to spew all of its stomach contents into the skin, and you’ll be more likely acquire whatever infection that tick was carrying.”

Also, don’t put Vaseline or smoke from a cigarette or [a] match on it,” Fallon says. “Just use tweezers.”

3. Check the Lyme map. Next you want to figure out if you picked up the tick in an area where Lyme is a problem. The CDC tracks Lyme cases and has detailed statistics — at the county level — about where doctors report cases.

Another good place to check is the website of your state’s health department.

The goal is to figure out if Lyme is present in your community. If the answer is, no, then you can relax. The chance you have Lyme is very, very low.

If the answer is, yes, then you want to see how intense transmission is in your county. This information will come in handy down at No. 5.

4. Save that tick. If there’s a possibility you picked up the tick in an area where Lyme is common, Fallon says, you might want to hold onto the critter so a lab can test it for Lyme.

“Put the tick into a baggie,” he says. “The tick doesn’t even need to stay alive for a lab to see if it carried Lyme.”

You can also take a picture of the tick and send it to the TickEncounter Resource Center. Scientists there will help identify the tick and tell you the chance it could have Lyme.

5. Monitor your health. So now comes the big decision: Should you go see a doctor? That depends on two factors: your symptoms and your location.

Be on the look-out for any red rash, Fallon says. It doesn’t have to be shaped like a target or bull’s eye.

“In fact, 80 percent of the time, the rash with Lyme isn’t shaped like that. It’s just red and expanding.”


“If you do develop an expanding rash, a fever or flu-like symptoms, don’t wait. Go see a doctor,” Fallon says. The earlier you start taking antibiotics the more likely you will recover fully and not have any lingering problems.

And while some symptoms persist even when people get treated, “The good news with Lyme is the majority of people who get treatment early do very well,” he says.

If you don’t have any symptoms, you don’t necessarily need to see a doctor, Fallon says. Not all blacklegged ticks have Lyme disease. And after it starts biting you, it takes about 24 to 36 hours to transmit the pathogen into your blood. So if the tick wasn’t on your body very long, you’re proabably OK.

But if you live in a place with a high number of Lyme cases, you might want to check in with a doctor even if you don’t have symptoms, Fallon says, especially if you think the tick was on your body for a while.

“The Infectious Diseases Society of America recommends a one-day treatment of doxycycline, prophylactically,” Fallon says, “That’s believed to be protective, to some extent, from the disease.”

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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8 thoughts on “Protect Yourself From Lyme Disease 

  1. Good stuff, Louis. A doctor friend clued me in to the “one-day treatment of doxycycline” a few years ago. Ticks are a way of life around here so I get a dose every now and again when I find one. So far, so good.

  2. Lyme disease sucks.

    I believe that the 24-36 hour rule is misleading. Two years ago I found a tick in my hand that had been there for no more than 20 minutes. I removed it, and 9 days later I couldn’t get off the couch. I’ve never been that sick before in my life.

    The one day dose of doxy should be administered within either 24 or 48 hours of the bite. Any longer than that and it’s not effective. My Dr. gave me the single dose of doxy 9 or 10 days after the bite, a few days later I was right as rain. About 3 weeks later, the Lyme came back and I needed the month long regime. Don’t mess with Lyme.

  3. These are great tips. Would never think to keep a tick that has been attached. Here’s another tip, some BUFF® products are treated with Insect Shield and many don’t know this but you can actually get your clothing treated by Insect Shield as well. For around $10 a piece you send them your gear and they return it fully treated and it lasts up to 70 washes. Full disclosure, I work for BUFF® headwear.

  4. Sawyer makes a good permethrin based clothing treatment. I’ve used it on my hunting vest and brush pants for the last two seasons. I’ve seen ticks fall off dead after exiting the brush. Good stuff… Full disclosure, I am a full-price paying customer and not connected to Sawyer in any other way.

  5. Great article, as usual…I’ve had lyme disease 3 times and it is no joke. The immediate onset of the symptoms were debilitating and I don’t know what the long term effects will be. Imagine your worst hangover and flu, combine the two and then think of John Goodman with a baseball bat in “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou”. I am not dramatist, but at one point during one of the illnesses, I told my daughter I didn’t think I was going to recover.

    My suggestion if you get bitten, is to start taking doxycycline as soon as your Dr. will prescribe it. Forget about keeping the bug…get to your Dr., get the antibiotic and start taking it.

  6. You need to be very (and I mean VERY) proactive about knocking this out with antibiotics quickly after you have been bitten. Also, only about 20-30% of folks bitten show the red ring around the bite, so that is not a good way to tell if you were bitten by a Lyme tick. Spirochetes (the nasty worms that cause Lyme and live in your red blood cells) are awful little bastards that are hard to kill, and once they set up shop, well, they jack you up (they also are the cause of syphilis and other delights). Best way to determine if you have Lyme is to find someone that does dark field microscopy. They will take a drop of your blood, let it die, and study it under 1000x microscope to see what comes crawling out of your red blood cells once the oxygen starts to deplete. If you have Lyme, they will find spirochetes coming out of one cell and trying to find another cell that has oxygen. All the other tests are crap. I had this done last week, and no spirochetes, thank God. You guys be safe this season, Lyme’s is no joke.

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