Perhaps you don’t believe that Lyme disease exists in the Pacific Northwest. And we can argue all day about whether it can cause chronic neurological and inflammatory disease. But hopefully, we can all agree that the best thing to do about Lyme disease is to prevent it.
Springtime is the most likely time to get bit by a nymph tick –the stage of a tick most likely to spread Lyme disease. Ticks can spread Lyme disease (as well as other infections) to humans and animals. A nymph is the juvenile stage of tick development. During their first year, the tick larvae feed on songbirds and mice, the natural reservoirs for Lyme. In the Spring of their second year, during their nymphal stage, they feed on larger animals, this is when they spread the disease. The disease is spread through their saliva. A nymph is about the size of a sesame seed. It can be very hard to detect.
In most cases of Lyme disease, the tick has been attached for over 24 hours, but it can also spread if the tick has attached, detached and reattached, which will trigger the bacteria to travel from the tick’s abdomen into its mouth.
The common signs of Lyme disease are a bull’s eye rash, acute joint pain and a flu like illness, but actually, the rash is usually only present in 60-70% of cases and can also appear in unusual ways. When my mother got Lyme disease, her arm swelled up like Popeye – no rings at all. And the illness can look a lot like other flu like illnesses.
So Here’s the Key… prevention…
- If you find a tick on you – save it and send it to a lab to have it tested for Lyme ASAP.
- If you are going off into Nature- which I highly recommend – wear light colored clothing, tuck your pants into your socks and do a tick check when you come home. You can spray your clothing beforehand with tick repellent. There are many types out there – check for safe use ahead of time.
- Brush your dogs outside – especially if they sleep with you.
- And if you are suspicious about Lyme disease- get into your doctor as soon as you can – and take all of your antibiotics. Early treatment can prevent a long struggle with a disease that many good doctors do not believe exists.
By Jennifer Means, ND, LAc