Monday, August 12, 2013

Ticked Off

Illus. Credit:
Ever since getting back from Wisconsin, I’ve been suffering from increasing feelings of feverishness, head and neck muscle aches, general lethargy, coughing and wheezing, and other general symptoms of flu. It drove me to the doctor’s this morning. While there, Jean also mentioned that I had had a tick bite.

I had not taken all the tick precautions that I would have normally followed because I was going to be on the water. When taking breaks ashore, we generally stayed on the sand or gravel along the shore. If going into tall grass or brush, I would have tucked trouser legs into socks and sprayed repellent on the lower legs and around the waist, but I didn’t feel the need here. I was wrong. I now remember when I broke the rules. On the lower river, I went over and sat down on the bank. The tick went undetected for a couple days. By that time, it had been given ample time to exchange fluids between the two of us.

The doctor asked where I had picked up the tick. When I answered, “Wisconsin”, he said that Wisconsin lies in or adjacent to just about every tick disease region that exists in the country, and that my ailments were not influenza, but a result of the tick bite. Ticks can cause tetanus, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, encephalitis, and a few other ailments I’ve never heard of and would never remember. The bottom line is that I’m now on a two-week regiment of Doxycycline, need to rest whenever possible, cannot go out in the sun, and need to frequently consult the two-page list of possible reactions and side-effects of the drug. The Doxycycline is apparently a shotgun-type of super antibacterial agent that should deal with any of these diseases. Ticks also carry a virus, Powassun, which antibacterials won’t treat, and which are fatal in a third of the cases. It is recommended that the tick be saved after removal. Testing it in a lab will identify the disease it may be carrying, thus making treatment simpler.

The importance of what I wanted to share here is that ticks should not be taken lightly. If the symptoms above present themselves, consult your doctor as soon as possible. The diseases are reportedly fairly easy to treat if attacked early, but if left untreated, will cause irreparable and irreversible damage that will affect the rest of your life. The lesson, for me as well, is taking greater preventive measures, and being more conscientious about body inspection to find them. The shorter the period of time between the tick’s detection and removal, the smaller the chance of disease is likely to be.

We’ll see how the next two weeks go. This was certainly not the souvenir I wanted to remember the trip by.

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