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Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Posted by maineman z5a ME (My Page) on
Wed, May 3, 06 at 16:17

Hi Mainers,

Yikes! Suddenly we are seeing a lot of ticks on our property and apparently at least some of them are the dreaded Deer Ticks that can carry Lyme Disease. An article in the Kennebec Journal suggested that this greater-than-usual tick population is due to our recent unusually warm winter. Perhaps we can thank Global Warming for that.

In any case, I found a tick on my upper back early Monday morning. We removed it with tweezers and placed it a small jar for later identification, as is the recommended procedure. I called my doctor and his nurses said to identify the tick from Internet pictures and call back. It looked very much like an engorged female Deer Tick, so my doctor prescribed 200mg of doxycycline (the recommended early antibiotic preventative treatment for Lyme disease).

I'll be watching my bite site for signs of Lyme infection, in which case I will be taking more antibiotics.

This is a heads up for you to increase your precautions against Lyme-carrying ticks by using repellents like DEET applied on yourselves and clothing, and additionally, permethrin on your clothing and your footware. When possible, blouse your pants inside your boots and check yourself daily for ticks. Early tick removal is desirable. I don't look forward to getting Lyme and I don't think any of you do either. It has some unpleasant symptoms and bad effects on your quality of life. For more information, see Lyme Disease: 2005-2006 Update for Maine Clinicians.

You might want to look at and print out this Maine Tick Identification Card that I used to identify my tick.

As they used to say on that old TV cop program, "Be careful out there."

MM


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Thanks, MM. Hope it turns out to be nothing. One came in the house on my daughter yesterday, but I think it was a dog tick. That is the kind we usually see around here. We rarely have a problem with ticks in our yard, but venture into any tall grass, brush, or woods nearby and one is likely to come out with several ticks. And like you say, we will probably have an even worse infestation due to the mild winter.

You reminded me I also need to go to the vet to pick up some more Advantage to keep the ticks off the dog.


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Maybe I should wear one of those dog collars. (grin)

MM


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

I can commiserate with you, MM. A month or so ago, I had a tick attach itself to the backside of my arm. I felt it all day--an odd sensation--thought it was a rose thorn I'd acquired while pruning. I ended up in the Emergency room, after a botched attempt to remove the little bugger (tick removal + one mega dose of doxycycline runs about $180.00--if anyone cares to know). At that time, I decided to forego the Lyme titer, to the dismay of the physician. By the way, the antibiotics knocked me off my feet; however, I haven't taken an antibiotic since I was about fifteen years old--awhile ago. In my not so humble opinion, if one finds a tick embedded in their body--even if its removal is successful--see a physician for the dose of doxycycline!

It's been one month. I kept an eye on the bite site, and it did not develop the radiating red ring that might indicate Lyme disease. But, I've become paranoid about my occasional creaky joints and odd physical etc.'s since being bitten.

I live in Knox County. I removed ticks from the dog throughout this past winter. I am feeling oppressed by ticks; though weirdly, I think I've finally moved beyond the (fearful) denial stage, and arrived at a place of weary acceptance. I remove between one to four ticks from the dog each day, and each week, I find an average of two to four crawling around on my own self. Almost 100% of these are Deer Ticks. I spend a lot of each day vacuuming, brushing, and combing. Simple fact is, I spend most of each day in their environment. I will not use DEET, but will look into the permethrins.

What do you think about the State of Maine introducing 'wild' turkeys or some other tick eating creature to help alleviate the tick population explosion? Would doing something like this upset the natural order too much? I read that keeping Guinea hens is the de rigeur means of genteel tick control in CT suburbia...

--Maureen


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Do wild turkeys eat ticks? Their population is really increasing here in S. Maine (the turkeys).

Maureen, go to the vet and get the Frontline or Advantage ( I can't remember which). It makes the ticks fall off/die soon as they attempt to attach themselves to the dog. They also have a lyme disease vaccine for dogs, our lab gets it every year.

Speaking of, if they can develop a vaccine for dogs, why is there not a human form yet?


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Veilchen,

"...if they can develop a vaccine for dogs, why is there not a human form yet?"

They had a safe and effective human vaccine for Lyme Disease and discontinued it for lack of interest or some such bogus reason. Quoting from Lyme Disease: 2005-2006 Update for Maine Clinicians, if you read down in that rather long webpage, you will see:

"Vaccine : A safe and effective Lyme disease vaccine became available in 1999, but was withdrawn from the market in early 2002 because of poor sales. Other candidate vaccines are in development."

That really annoys me. Had I known about the stuff, I most certainly would have spent money for it, as long as it wasn't exorbitantly expensive and death wasn't a common side effect. I bet a lot of other people would have gotten a Lyme vaccination, too, if they had only known about it. It would be worth quite a bit not to have to worry about Lyme disease. I think someone really dropped the ball on that Lyme Disease vaccine.

So dogs have effective tick protection and Lyme vaccine and we don't? Who's really running the show?

MM


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Maureen,

"I will not use DEET, but will look into the permethrins."

Just out of curiosity, why will you not use DEET? It's supposedly actually "safe" to apply to your skin, while permethrin is not to be applied to your skin, but only to clothing, footware, tents and such.

Incidentally, there is a new repellent in the market that you might want to take a look at. It is Cutter Advanced insect repellent. I have been using quite a lot of it this spring and last year. It seems to work well for mosquitoes and doesn't have the unpleasant feel of DEET on your skin. However, I don't know whether the Cutter is effective against ticks, and I somewhat doubt that it is.

I also continue to use my favorite 18% DEET + N-Octyl bicycloheptene dicarboximide and Di-n-propyl isocinchomeronate formula in the REPEL Sportsmen Formula that I get from Wal-Mart. Don't you just love those chemical names? It's a good thing they don't allow them in spelling bees. The REPEL Sportsmen Formula is reasonably effective against black flies and ticks as well as mosquitoes. DEET by itself is not very effective against black flies.

I think the REPEL Sportsman may be more effective against black flies than the Cutter, but both do a credible job as long as you don't "miss a spot", as I frequently do. The black flies are all too willing to show me the exact spot that I missed. I am currently nursing such a spot on the back of my upper arm.

Black fly bites affect me really badly. After two or three days their bites swell up almost like snake bites and itch badly. Scratching just makes them worse. I am also similarly affected by mosquito bites more than most people. Oh, well. I'm still not going to surrender the outdoors to the bad bugs.

MM


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

I hate to admit it, but I douse myself with Deep Woods Off or some other high% deet spray everytime I go out to work in the gardens, as soon as the mozzies and/or the blackflies are out. For one, I can't work when I'm miserable and swatting at bugs. And I also have a bad reaction to black fly bites, and the bite seems to last for weeks. It may be because I'm from the midwest, and I don't think we had blackflies there, so my body has not built up enough immunity to their bites. Maybe the same for you, MM?

And not only do we have to worry about Lyme, but also West Nile and that other disease that mosquitoes carry.


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Veilchen,

I guess we have a lot in common. But I also wear a hat with a headnet that I spray with repellent each time before putting it on.

"...and that other disease that mosquitoes carry."

Malaria? Yellow Fever? Dengue Fever? Eastern Equine Encephalitis? The Heartbreak of Psoriasis? (grin)

There are quite a few Mosquito-Borne Diseases.

MM


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

It was the Eastern Equiine Encephalitis I was thinking about, they had some occurences south of here in NH last summer.


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

MM,

Well, hello! How right you are: DEET is far less disagreeable than permethrin. To me, a chemistry flunky, DEET's diethyl m toluamide composition was reminiscent of the chemical make-up of paint stripper. Remember, I'm the person who balked at the mention of using moth balls in the garden. Though, perhaps moth balls are of worse stuff than either DEET or permethrin. Heck, Lyme disease is probably worse than any chemical--but wait--the antibiotics one must take for Lyme disease is the worst! I think I'll stay inside today.

I'm inclined toward more mechanical methods of pest control, such as the pick and squash method. I do have my head in the sand when it comes to chemicals, just one of my idiosyncrasies. In fact, I once lost a gardening job over a bottle of Round-Up...

As a flatlander, the blackflies can leave me in shreds each spring. My product-plug is for Bug Away Double Strength, which is indeed an herbal repellant, and one that works for me. It comes out of its pocket-sized bottle efficiently--just squeeze a pool of it into your palm, rub hands together, then over entire head, neck, and any other areas of concern. One $5.00 bottle carries me through a season, and believe me, I am where the blackflies are. Works for 'mossies', too. Using this oily product does leave one looking like an apparition at the end of the day's gardening--oil/dirt...

Regarding the Lyme vaccine discussion, why did I recently remove a 'full' tick from a dog that had received this vaccine weeks ago? And, should I have faith in this vaccine because animal drug companies have achieved clearance for a vaccine though human companies have not? There's plenty of seemingly legitimate data to point out that possible side effects of the Lyme vaccine have, at least for human usage, kept it 'off the shelves' for a reason.

It's a jungle out there...

Maureen


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Maureen,

You're right about the hazards of moth balls. The older napthalene mothballs are known to be carcinogenic and the newer paradichlorobenzene variety are toxic and are suspected of being carcinogenic.

"...why did I recently remove a 'full' tick from a dog that had received this vaccine weeks ago?"

You probably know that the Lyme vaccine is not meant to protect your dog against ticks. A good tick collar might help with that, or some other anti-tick product. I think the effectiveness of the Lyme vaccine for dogs is in question.

I also am personally confused about the Lyme Disease vaccine for humans. As I understand it, Lyme Disease is not caused by a virus, but instead by a spirochete bacterium. What puzzles me is that several people on these forums have reported a second infection of Lyme Disease. I would have thought that the first infection would have created a bunch of antibodies against Lyme spirochetes which should have been even more effective than a vaccine.

"There's plenty of seemingly legitimate data to point out that possible side effects of the Lyme vaccine have, at least for human usage, kept it 'off the shelves' for a reason."

Yes. I have very recently become aware of such information. So I recant my former rants against the withdrawal of the human vaccine for Lyme. Hopefully a good human Lyme vaccine will be developed in the near future.

I am becoming a little paranoid about ticks. My son knows about a science fiction movie about giant ticks attacking and killing people, and he suggested we rent it. He says it was a really bad movie, with crude special effects. And that's a good thing???

You're right. It's a jungle out there... And I'm not Tarzan.

MM


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

It is sad to see ticks spreading up here. I used to live in Tick City, a rural town not far from the Lyme of Lyme disease, in Connecticut. 2 people on my block got infected, and are well but still suffer from early arthritis. Same thing with my sister from another town. One dog I know got it, was treated, and lived with painful arthritis the rest of her life. Two dogs died from it-their owners did not pay attention to the early symptoms. This is only the cases I know of that I am talking about. My terrier used to come in crawling with deer and dog ticks. But neither he nor the cat got Lyme disease. Dog was vaccinated every year, cat had a flea/tick collar.

Do not flush a tick down the toilet-put it in a bottle of alcohol or burn it. Whatever you do, make sure all of its body, including the possible eggs, is destroyed.

I also stayed on Block Island, Rhode Island for a few weeks in tick season. That was Tick Megalopolis! The terrier had 2 dozen on him every night. The migrating birds were picking them gleefully off the tall grasses.

If you feel a tickling under your clothing, do not ignore it. It is a tick crawling, most likely. You will eventually calm down and not be so grossed out about them.


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Paula,

"If you feel a tickling under your clothing, do not ignore it. It is a tick crawling, most likely."

That's good advice, which I plan to follow.

MM


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Yes, they are bad this year :-(

I use Damminix tick tubes, a permethrin-based product that uses treated mouse nesting material to stop mice from breeding more ticks. It takes 1 year for the product to impact the tick life-cycle. www.damminix.com

I also tick-check (hair) with a fine toothed comb, change clothes when I come inside, and comb my cat when she comes in (yes, I know she should be insdie anyway). The cat is a big tick collector. We have mowed areas where I would rather have flowers/natural lawn. Last summer we mowed and bagged most of the yard for the first mowing, instead of mowing and leaving cuttings behind.

And there is a beautiful shaded, treed part of the yard I will not be visting for a while, until the spring ticks have gone away. We have a HUGE squirrel and groundhog population due to neighboring development. I have put Damminix down the groundhog holes, to see if I can de-tick them too. I have thought about trapping the squirrels and applying frontline. But not done it!

Here is a link that might be useful: damminix tick tubes


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Heirloomapplenut,

If you do choose to live-trap squirrels and treat them with Frontline, be careful. Squirrels can and will bite. They will also run around a lot in a big trap, so it will be easier to treat them if you use one of the smaller-sized traps.

I haven't seen any groundhogs yet this year, but we have quite a few squirrels and chipmunks, all of whom potentially carry ticks. I am trying as best I can to make this a rodent-free property, with the exception of voles, which I have no idea how to control. Controlling the rodents is difficult, due to a continuing influx of new animals from the surrounding woods. I have gotten a lot of help from cats, both tame and feral. And from owls and other birds of prey.

This is only our fourth year here in Maine, but this is far and away the worst tick year I have seen, here or elsewhere. I was half joking when I attributed the ticks to Global Warming, but since then I have seen a newspaper article that did that very thing.

MM


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Lyme Disease is a drag (both the helpmeet and I have had it twice). But ticks are not that big a deal. You make time to check yourself every day and you take the necessary precautions when you venture into areas where ticks are prevalent.

We used Frontline on the cats (4) and the dog. And we check them every day. I've been pleasantly surprised at how effective it is.

Whenever we find a tick that is attached and feeding on our person, we pick it off and down the drain it goes. We simply mark the location of it on the calender. If we start feeling crummy within a few days/week of a bite, we have a pretty good idea WHY.

The New England Gardening forum has a wonderfully complete FAQ about Lyme Disease. I've linked it below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lyme Disease


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

"Do not flush a tick down the toilet-put it in a bottle of alcohol or burn it. Whatever you do, make sure all of its body, including the possible eggs, is destroyed."

We use stickers (or sticky tape) to dispose of ticks. The US Postal Service provides free rolls of "priority mail" stickers, about 1 1/4 by 3". You can order them (free) online at the USPS web site. We asked for 1 roll, they sent 5. So we seal plastic bags, pick up lint, and have them always on hand for ticks. With the tick in the center and the sticker folded over, there is minimal handling of the tick and no exposure to squashed tick guts (that could contain all kinds of nasty stuff).

Here is a link that might be useful: Tick Packing Materials!


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Heirloomapplenut,

Your link apparently has an incomplete URL, and hence doesn't work. However, you can "drill down" to Priority Mail Sticker from The Postal Store home page. Maybe we should all start working to see who can create the world's largest ball of Priority Mail Stickers. (grin)

MM


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

I was surprised to read at the CDC's site at the link I have placed below that they recommend 50% DEET even for children as young as two months! We have noticed that DEET can damage plastic so it seems quite strong to me, so I did wonder about the safety factor. But gee, the stuff does work. I may look into that Cutter product mentioned above by one member. I had not heard of the active ingredient in that product before but just did a little online reseach into it too.

I did about 7 hours of gardening one day last week and just wore boots, long pants, long sleeves, hat. But the sleeves were not QUITE long enough and that 2 inch space is where the little buggers got me!

Joanie D.

Here is a link that might be useful: CDC talks about DEET


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Joanie,

Thanks for the CDC link. Very interesting. I take it that the "little buggers" that got you were mosquitoes. How are you doing on black flies? So far this year for us, the black flies have been more of a problem than the mosquitoes. And, in my experience, DEET by itself is not so effective against them.

MM


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

I would say I have about an equal number of mosquitoes and black flies here. I am thinking about getting one of those propane bug killer things. My brother has one and it works well. I am sure I would be contributing to the greenhouse effect of warming up the earth though.\

Joanie D.


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Joanie,

"I am thinking about getting one of those propane bug killer things."

Me too. Mosquitoes can carry several bad diseases. Hopefully black flies don't. I'm looking at the Mosquito Magnet brand that Home Depot carries. There are several models, ranging from expensive to very expensive. It would be handy to get the self-contained kind that don't need an electric cord. That would make it a lot easier to move the trap around to find the most effective spot.

In our case, I think that would depend completely on whether the wind was coming out of the north or out of the south. Since mosquitoes and black flies home in on a carbon dioxide stream, either from you or from the mosquito trap, it's a good idea to put the trap downwind from you so the little vampires will arrive at the trap first.

MM


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

My Mosquito Magnet was very effective even in its first year. There should be fewer this year. Mosquitos are territorial, so you will find when you leave your machine's range, the new mosquitos will get'cha. There are directions on how to place it, between you and the bug's hangout, along the prevailing wind path.


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

I pulled an attached tick off my neck about a month ago. I have some glass vials with screw tops, so I put it in one and called the ER to ask what to do next. They had me bring it to the hospital lab. The lab took it and sent it off to some state lab that does an I.D. on it to make sure it's a deer tick, and to decide if it's really engorged or not. Mine was a deer tick but wasn't engorged.

Then I saw my doctor. She said that they have to be engorged and attached for 24 hours before they can transmit lyme disease, if in fact that particular tick is carrying it. Since my tick wasn't engorged, the chances of me catching lyme are very very low. She told me to just watch the spot to make sure. If a patient is insistant, she would prescribe antibiotics, but she also realy wants to avoid being part of breeding antibiotic resistant lyme disease. She also complemented me on completely removing it with just my fingernails.

A few weeks later I found another tick crawling on me. I don't have a good book on eight leggeds, but a friend did, and it looks just like the supposed deer tick I brought to the lab, but bigger. We I.D.'d it as a wood tick, which makes me wonder if the first one was a deer tick or a wood tick.

I've pulled a couple off the cat. They were both dog ticks, which look different and are a different genus and don't transmit lyme disease.

A lot of people don't realize how closely lyme is related to syphalis.

Dan


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Dan,

"We I.D.'d it as a wood tick, which makes me wonder if the first one was a deer tick or a wood tick."

The Maine Tick Identification card is one small reference that has been adequate for us so far. Notice that there are two pages to that document, with the second page representing the back of the card. Also, since it is a PDF document, you can zoom in to get a better view of the graphics and the text.

"A lot of people don't realize how closely lyme is related to syphilis."

Well, both are caused by spirochetes and both are chronic diseases. Other than that, are there other similarities?

MM


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Dan,

I wish I'd seen your doctor when I had my tick bite. I am always heartened to hear of prudent reluctance when it comes to the dispensing of antibiotics. This contradicts my earlier, fearful opinion that one should by all means take the blast of doxycycline following a bite--regardless.

I was waiting to see the vet the other day and picked a tick nymph, which brand, who knows--it was wee--from the dog. I held onto the squirmy little bugger for awhile, and decided I'd had enough. I guess I had it in mind to dispense of it once I gained access to an exam room. I asked the receptionist about disposal, and she returned with a test tube filled with alcohol; we gave it its last rites. I was asked the location the tick had been attached to the dog and the geographic location (County) the tick had likliest hopped on the dog. The tick went off to the state lab, like yours, for the Lyme study that is currently being conducted. I was told that any time I find a tick either on me or the dog, I may bring it in and have the clinic send it off for ID and Lyme testing. Free o' charge. At some point, maybe months from now, a report will arrive in my mailbox. Seeing as the dog and I are such popular hosts, why not participate in this study?

Maureen

MM,

In response to Dan's comment on Lyme/syphilis, you wrote, "Well, both are caused by spirochetes and both are chronic diseases. Other than that, are there other similarities?

Your question tempts my inappropriate wit.

Maureen


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Maureen,

"I wish I'd seen your doctor when I had my tick bite. I am always heartened to hear of prudent reluctance when it comes to the dispensing of antibiotics."

I was very glad to get the 200mg dose of doxycycline in response to my tick bite, which was an engorged female deer tick that had obviously been attached for some time, based on the inflamed nature of the bite area. I was afraid the doxycycline might be too late. I hope to repeat that preventive treatment for any high-risk deer tick bite.

Incidentally, apparently I "dodged the bullet" on that one, because the bite site remains clear of any secondary reddening. My tick was an exact match for an actual-sized picture of an engorged female deer tick on the Maine Tick Identification Card. We actually placed the tick on a printout of the picture, and the match was uncanny. Then I called my doctor.

"I ended up in the Emergency room, after a botched attempt to remove the little bugger (tick removal + one mega dose of doxycycline runs about $180.00--if anyone cares to know)."

You had an unusually bad and expensive experience. My 200mg dose of doxycycline cost me just $1.75 at Wal-Mart. My phone consult with my doctor cost me nothing and they faxed the prescription to Wal-Mart. So we drove straight to Wal-Mart. I took my dose right at Wal-Mart as soon as I got possession of it.

We had removed the tick with tweezers ourselves and put it in a bottle for identification. It's OK to gently pull the tick for several minutes, if necessary, to give it time to voluntarily release its mouth parts.

Just make sure the tweezers gently grip the head or thorax area of the tick in front of the abdomen. You don't want to hurt the tick. And you don't want to squeeze the tick's abdomen, because that would be just using the tick as a syringe to inject its body contents into you.

If I get any more deer tick bites I plan to repeat the single doxycycline preventative dose. A study has shown it is effective in a high percentage of cases in preventing a Lyme infection. When it comes to Lyme, prevention is definitely better than cure. And you take a lot less doxycycline in the long run.

MM


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Around the barn three times but I think I'm "in" the wonderful electronic medium. Anyway have been searching the Web this AM for ideas on tick control. Great suggestions from the hunter gentleman !

Being bored in Bath, I searched further on what my mom used a lot of when I was young - vinegar. Found a great website, which gives uses relating to bugs, cleaning & more! www.vinegartips.com All the subject(s) are accessible at the top of their web page, which makes reviewing their suggestions easy.

ACE Hdwre also recommended a wtr-based liquid in a spray bottle containing
permethrin.

The state of maine had a decent health site, BUT the KEY is to keep from being bit !!

Thank you again for the DEET & REPEL hunting reminders !!
respectfully,
dbogey the golfer


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

I woke up this morning with a tick on my back may have been there a day or two I pulled it of put it in a
Pill bottle have a red spot the size of a pencil eraser what do I do now?


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RE: Deer Tick & Lyme Disease Alert!

Yes! I believe it is... I was bit by a deerfly (and I killed it and saw) I was also bit the same day by other deerflys around my ankles.. but the one I killed (and got me) turned to a bulls eye within 24 hours. Went to dr's took a photo.. Was put on antibiotics immediately Just got results (waited until Oct to get tested) and IGG positive but western negatives.. Just be careful I believe you can contract it through deerflys. The Michigan Ministry of Natural resources actually warn against it.. Happy gardening!


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