We know it's not June. We know it's not really the time when you're used to hearing about ticks. However, according to Deirdre Arvidson, a public health nurse for Barnstable County, “It is always the time to think about ticks.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Public Health (DPH) report statistics by state and sometimes by region, but often those reports are over a year old and, according to Arvidson, “They only report about 10% of what’s out there.”
Lyme disease is more complicated than most people think. “If you get Lyme Disease in a straight forward way, you get bit and then within a week, you get the rash, then you go to doctor and get antibiotics and most likely it would go away. That’s the easy part.” The hard part said Arvidson is when you don’t get the rash and have no symptoms right away. Many people who were unknowingly infected over the summer may now just beginning to see signs of the disease.
The kind of bacteria that causes Lyme is called a spirochete which is spiral in shape. According to Arvidson, because of its nature, this bacteria has the ability to hide in cells that are more resistant to antibiotics. “It also can tend to gravitate towards parts of the body more resistant to antibiotics like the heart or the brain. If it gravitates towards the brain, you’d see more neurological symptoms. If it goes toward the heart, you’d see more cardiac symptoms.”
The bottom line? According to Arvidson, no matter what your symptoms are, get tested. “If someone who wasn’t one particular way before and now they are for no apparent reason, that person should be tested for Lyme. If you are having headaches or confusion that you didn’t have before, you should be tested. If you have a child being tested for behavioral or educational problems, ask if this child can been tested for Lyme.”
And even though it’s almost winter, “If it’s not freezing, you have ticks,” said Arvidson. “According to our county entomologists, there was just another birth of nymphs. There are plenty of ticks out there and they are the tiny tiny ones.”
With the warm weather people still need to do the daily tick check, said Arvidson. “Ticks have to stay on you for greater than 24 hours to really transmit the disease so doing the daily check, sometimes with magnifying glass, means your chances of getting Lyme will be diminished greatly.”