Friday, March 19, 2010

Beware of Ticks

Wild Plants And Wooly Bears

Last night I went to bed with all intentions of reading a book on Abraham Lincoln. Upon removing my tee shirt, I noticed something on my chest. It was a tick and it had imbedded itself in my flesh. I immediately ran downstairs to the bathroom mirror, where I saw the thing in gruesome detail. Its legs were wriggling, no doubt in an attempt to drill even deeper in my hide.

Knowing that pulling ticks off with tweezers can result in the head remaining imbedded, I resolved to take a more reasoned approach. So I got a needle and some matches. Heating the point to red-hot and applying it to the tick resulted in it backing out. I then killed the creature by impaling it and later, placed the dead tick in an envelope.

Having met people who had suffered the terrible tribulations of Lyme disease, I have begun a vigil to monitor the bite site for the telltale, red “bull’s-eye” that indicates the presence of Lyme. So far so good, I’m happy to say.

Today, a friend mentioned that the lab at Waldo County General Hospital routinely sends tick specimens out for further analysis. This is a free service, except that the testing facility accepts donations.

However, the hospital rejected my request. They would not send the tick out for lab testing without doctor’s orders. Lacking health insurance and not wishing to incur doctor’s fees and being of a contumacious nature, I have decided to take the wait-and-see approach.

It strikes me as odd that such a reasonable procedure as testing a tick that had bitten a person must involve red tape.

I do suggest that anyone bitten by a tick, take the official approach and visit their physician. Early treatment is of the essence, regarding Lyme disease. The faster a victim is placed upon a regimen of antibiotics, the better the chances of not contracting the disease.

Here in Maine, we have several kinds of ticks. All of them are liable to attach themselves to humans. The life cycle of these parasites runs thus: Ticks disengage themselves from their animal hosts in March and fall to the ground, where they deposit their eggs in the leaf litter. The creatures may then find another host to affix themselves to. Early springs, such as Maine is currently experiencing, with lots of newly-bare ground, encourage a successful transfer.

Unfortunately, even though blackflies and mosquitoes have not yet made their presence known, ticks are active and plentiful. So after outdoor activity, make sure to check yourself for any, clinging ticks.

I have been bitten by ticks several times, and have never felt the bite. It was only hours later that I discovered their presence. So be vigilant and protect yourself. It only takes a minute to check your body for ticks.

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