New information about ticks, Lyme disease in Pennsylvania

In early June a few years ago, after returning from Elk County, I found a tiny tick embedded in my arm, and I carefully pulled it out with the help of tweezers. It gave me the willies to think the thing had been chewing on my skin, but since I knew it had been there for no more than eight hours or so, I told myself not to worry about it.

Everything I had read about deer ticks spreading Lyme disease up till then told me that unless the tick had been attached to me for a day or perhaps two, it would not infect me with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

I didn’t see a doctor and I didn’t take doxycycline. Many, many sportsmen could tell you a similar story.

But now experts are telling us that much of what we thought we knew about ticks and Lyme disease is wrong. And sportsmen need to know – especially here in Pennsylvania, which by far leads the country in Lyme disease cases.

For instance, Dr. Nevena Zubcevik, attending physician at Harvard Medical School and co-director of Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, recently shared the latest findings that she and her colleagues have made on the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease, in particular on the 10 to 15 percent of patients who suffer long-term symptoms.

You have just gotta read what she said. See the story at She pointed out that recent research debunks several commonly held beliefs about the transmission and treatment of tick-borne diseases. This caught my eye:

“The conception that the tick has to be attached for 48 hours to inject the bacteria is completely outdated,” she said. “There are studies that show that an attachment of 15 minutes can give you anaplasmosis, 10 minutes for the Powassan virus, and for the different strains of Borrelia burgdorferi, we have no idea.”

Dr. Zubcevic said the notion that children, infants, or pregnant women should not be given doxycycline is also outdated. “Dermatologists have prescribed doxycycline to kids for years to treat acne; why not for such a debilitating disease?”

She also said the two-day course of doxycycline, often prescribed for people who find a tick embedded on their body, has little or no prophylactic value. “It should be 100 to 200 milligrams of doxycycline twice a day for 20 days, regardless of the time of engorgement,” she said. “It is not a two-day thing.”

Categories: Pennsylvania – Jeff Mulhollem

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