Life is funny. It presents us opportunities to inform and/or entertain when we least expect it. As I was working on the layout for this month’s issue, I received the following email from Terry Kish:
“Funny story about why I don’t have a brewery or winery review for this issue.
I was doing yard work a couple of weeks ago and apparently something bit me, although I didn’t realize it at the time. The next day I noticed this huge “bruise” on my arm, but thought I had just bumped it on something.
A few days later, my sister saw it and said it looked like when her son was bitten by a tick. Since I have a live-in ER nurse, aka my husband, I had him take a look at it. He snapped a pic - Gotta love cell phone cameras! He asked one of his colleagues for their opinion. They weren’t sure, so it was off to see the doc at Urgent Care. She also wasn’t sure if it was a tick bite, but since the risk of untreated Lyme disease was worse than the risk of taking antibiotics, I was put on a 21 day course of Doxycycline. (I feel like I’ve been taking them forever at this point!)
Anyway, even with probiotics, my stomach has not felt up to drinking. Only a few more days, though, so hopefully next week I can be on the prowl again!”
Always one to recognize a good story and a Teaching moment, Terry offered to let me share her experience.
I hit the internet and immediately found the information I needed from the Department of Etymology at Penn State University (ento.psu.edu) which seems like kismet since Terry and I are both moms of Penn State graduates.
There are 500 species of ticks, worldwide, and 25 species of ticks in Pennsylvania; the four most common species of ticks in the Keystone state are:
1. American dog tick
2. Blacklegged tick (aka the deer tick -pictured on a leaf in the second photo)
3. Lone Star tick
4. Groundhog tick
Of these four, the bite of an American dog tick cannot transmit Lyme disease. It can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia (Rabbit fever), and it can cause tick paralysis in dogs and humans.
The blacklegged tick is a well-known transmitter of Lyme disease. It can also carry human babesiosis, a febrile (feverish) disease that is usually mild, but can be serious for people with compromised immune systems. Typically, the blacklegged tick must be attached for more than 24 hours to transmit Lyme disease.
The Lone Star tick is known to transmit only Rocky Mountain spotted fever in Pennsylvania, but in other locations this tick is a known carrier of tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and causes tick paralysis in dogs and humans. It’s regarded as a weak transmitter for Lyme disease.
The groundhog tick tends to feed only on groundhogs, but has occasionally been found on birds, small animals, and even humans. It is not a known transmitter of Disease.
Early symptoms of Lyme disease include headache, fever, sore throat, and nausea. If the disease remains untreated, symptoms can progress to debilitating rheumatologic, cardiac, and neurological conditions, but rarely death.
Though ticks are most prevalent in the spring, you should use caution anytime you are outside working in the yard, walking your dog, or hiking in the woods.
These simple steps may help protect you from tick bites:
1. If you plan to be outside in your yard or a wooded area, wear light colored protective clothing. Wearing a long-sleeved shirt, long pants tucked into socks, and a wide brimmed hat will help protect you.
2. Use tick repellents, DEET or permethrins. This is especially important in heavily wooded areas and on hot days when you may not be able to wear long sleeves and long pants.
3. Check yourself for ticks or signs of an insect bite daily if you spend a lot of time outdoors.
4. If you find a tick, use forceps or tweezers to remove ticks attached to the skin. Use gentle pressure to retract the tick where it is attached to the skin, but not on the body of the tick.
5. Learn the symptoms of early Lyme disease and get immediate medical attention if you have any of these symptoms. Be aware of the symptoms of other diseases or medical conditions caused by tick bites.
6. If you remove a tick, carefully take a picture of it to help identify its species or take it to be properly identified.
If you are bitten by an insect and experience redness, a rash, swelling or bruising at the wound site, but do not know for certain it is a tick, please follow Terry ‘s example and consult a medical professional.
*Valuable information for this article was taken from “Four Common Ticks in Pennsylvania.” authored by Steve Jacobs, Sr. Extension Associate Penn State University. Revised July 2012 (ento.psu.edu)
Photo credit for image of the blacklegged tick (second photo in the line display of tick images):