The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

All Ticked Off:

by: db Conard, Quill Reporter

If you are not "ticked off" then you better get that way, because the ticks are here for ever and seemingly in ever increasing numbers.

Please! I don't want to come across like a kid trying to tease his sister with a bug, but I do want to get your attention so that these little suckers don't have to be all that big a deal.

Ticks must have some purpose. It's just that, as the human species goes, that little bitty bug, can result in a major fight for your health. But, it need not be that way. With just a little awareness about precautions and solutions, everyone can continue to enjoy the world of nature that is everywhere in our lives.

Lyme Disease is the most common tick-born illness in the United states and Europe. Lyme disease is caused by an infection with the bacteria Borrelia Burgdorferi, which is carried by deer ticks. The bacteria is transmitted when the tick bites, and is able to hang on firmly attached to the skin for 48 to 72 hours to pass Lyme disease bacteria to humans.

What to do about tick bites is becoming more routine with ever improving diagnostic and treatment capabilities for the various illnesses attributed to their bites.

Ticks are amazing little hunters that call us food. To a tick, the bigger you are the better. Do you think you can kill it with a mere smash? A tick is tough enough to take a 200 pound man's hardest pinch, and just shrug and walk away. And, it is amazing where they show up, which is anywhere, and everywhere.

You know they hitch rides on deer, but that is in the adult stage of their development, however when they are in their nymphal stage and at the most dangerous cycle of their life to humans, they are carried most often by mice, yet can still hitch a ride on anything, including birds, a blowing leaf that can carry one to your door, your neighbor's coat, your waiter's shoe, or your dog"s tail?

Common sense will dictate the level of precaution necessary to protect yourself and family members. Just keep in mind that not that long ago, Lyme Disease was seldom heard of but has, in a very short time, spread across the country from Lyme, Connecticut and the east coast to major infestations of deer ticks locally.

The major concern is the high percentages of the ticks tested here that are carriers of Lyme Disease. Too many people find themselves suffering from symptoms that are often crippling that seemingly come out of nowhere, yet are often confused with any number of diseases which can delay effective treatment.

Sometimes the diagnostic process can become complicated and, to my knowledge, still can be dependent on not only blood tests but, also on understanding the symptoms because of what doctors call false positives and negatives which make the tests a good indicator but not always accurate.

The key is the early detection of symptoms. A bulls eye rash near the site of a bite is a simple indicator, but not always evident. An unexplained fever, a lack of energy, sudden onset of pain, recurring lameness, deteriorating health, depression, nerve problems, heart and kidney problems, loss of appetite, arthritis, and in the most severe cases, vision and central nervous system issues. All of which can be pretty scary if you don't know what is happening to you.

The longer the disease goes undetected the more severe the symptoms and the more the disease can be confused with other illnesses

But instead of diagnostics the best solution is prevention. The Insect Repellent DEET which is one of the primary bug repellants, does the trick to discourage these crawling "beasties", the thing is we forget it until we are reminded by a bite.

Perhaps the biggest problem with Lyme Disease is the size of the ticks which are just a little larger than the period at the end of this sentence.

Because of their size it takes extra attention to discover that they have found a place to attach themselves.

Being bitten by an infected tick does not mean you will get the disease.

Only one in a hundred people who have been exposed to a infected tick actually contract Lyme disease.

It is all about paying attention to every little itch and irritation and then using a little care in removing them from your skin.

Tweezers do not do the job, and more often than not leave the head of the tick stuck in you as a prime site for an infection.

A cotton ball with some liquid detergent on it placed over the tick takes 15 to 20 seconds to get them to turn lose and back out with no ill effects, otherwise use a gentle pressure when pulling them from you.

Ticks are going to be here like it or not, what you choose to do about them can really affect your life. Whether you spray from your hat to your shoes is up to you, and only necessary when you expect to spend some time in the woods or near paths frequented by deer.

The treasure in the heartland is our wonderful outdoors that in no way should be diminished by the slightest fear of wee "beasties" out to get us.

I was a victim of Lyme disease, and having had it in it's most severe form, understand the importance of just a little awareness of the disease and how simple it might be for any of the number of people who will, this year, be effected and infected perhaps unnecessarily by those little suckers.

If you are interested in learning more about ticks and Lyme disease an excellent source of information can be found on line at

Above all it is your medical professional that you should refer to if you think you have symptoms or may have been exposed to the disease.

My appreciation goes to the Galesburg V.A. and Dr. Hackman.