Taking precautions to avoid ticks, Lyme

I never even knew I’d been bitten by a tick. It was early July in 2010 and I woke up one morning during a heat wave to a powerful headache. My joints, especially my knees, felt like I’d just run a marathon, and by the end of the day I was breaking out in cold sweats and even shivering.

Thinking I had a summer version of the flu, or a bad cold, my wife grabbed me a supply of cold medications, and after a few days I was feeling a little better. Then, I noticed a series of red blotches on my legs, arms and back. They were warm to the touch. I knew right then that I had Lyme disease.

A visit to the doctor’s office netted a prescription of doxycycline, the common antibiotic used to battle early stage Lyme. I immediately began to feel better, but the headaches, especially mid-day, lasted for several months. A specialist I’d visited toward the end of my treatment said that would happen. He also said I may feel ongoing effects.

I’m not sure if it’s an aging body or leftover Lyme, but since my diagnosis, hot weather does not appeal to me the way it used to. I sweat easily and have to constantly remind myself to stay hydrated. I also make a solid effort to ward off ticks.

It seems as though this is a bad year in the Northeast for the pesky arachnids. Actually, it seems like that every year. On top of that, national news stories are surfacing about other tick-borne diseases like Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis and the Powassan Virus, which have everyone on high alert.

I take a lot of precautions when it comes to ticks, and can only hope it’s enough. I start with the clothing I wear during turkey season, working on my gardens and doing chores around my property. I spray these clothes with a Permethrin-based spray, doing so every couple of weeks. I do the same with my hunting clothes in the fall. I don’t like using chemicals, at all, but I hate being a carrier of Lyme.

I also use temporary sprays anytime I’m outdoors, say on a hike, a camping trip and especially any summer scouting I may do in the woods. Once I’m done I get these clothes hung back up outside, look myself over and take a hot shower. Pets, too, are a problem and should be checked before they come in the house or enter your vehicle. The bottom line is that you don’t want ticks from your pets crawling around your car or home as they could easily wind up on you.

It is sad that it has come to this, but the days of sitting around on the lawn, walking in the woods or even kids playing in fall leaves can now come with a price if precautions are not taken. This time of year is very critical as the blacklegged tick, and its cousins, are out there in their nymph stages ready to wreak havoc on unsuspecting victims.

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