Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ticks and Disease

It is time again that the main ticks that are active are the little larva, the ones who never fed on any thing yet and have never tested positive for any disease organism. Besides that, they are so tiny (the size of the dot in my "i") that I am always surprised when some one brings one in.
The good news is that for the next 3 months, there will be very little transmission of Lyme disease into the human population (the other ticks mostly are not feeding) until mid October!
We are still getting back reports from all the submission we have had ( it can take 6 weeks, but mostly 4 weeks) for us to get a report back from the CT Agricultural Station .
Why so long? Because they are testing all of Connecticut! That is a lot of ticks for a limited staff doing the work for free (these are really good people,trust me).
In the mean time, I put some thing on my plate that I probably should not have (see my post on overwhelmed). I was looking at tick data, data that no one else has because I will call every positive from the CT Ag Station to make sure people understand and go to their doctors. I also ask a few questions.
One thing we keep stressing is that if you find one tick, there is a chance there are more.
So when people report having symptoms and the tick is not positive or is unengorged, we make a very rational assumption that there was another tick.
While the Ag Station will put a disclaimer on all their tests, it is a very, very good test. It tests for the spirochetes in the tick by PCR. It has found the disease in ticks with no body, so it is very good!
So symptoms are the big thing. Why?
Besides the one issue I just raised, there are other issues, there are other diseases. While Lyme is spread by the white footed mouse, who remains infected for life (3 years) once it is infected. Deer do not get Lyme and can not transmit it, but they are know to carry babesia and Ehrlichia organisms. I have only had 5 posts on Lyme, so it gets to be more interesting to me than a lot of things.
Why all of this? Because one of the things I found in the survey was people having real symptoms when the tick they submitted was either not infected or unengorged.
Many doctor do treat quickly. There many cases of single dose Doxycycline being given, with no reports of symptoms afterward.
There were also cases where the doctor would not treat with out a positive blood test even though there were classic symptoms and a positive ticks.
The variance on the treatment was amazing, different drugs, different time periods, very little would even be considered standard.
That is the medical profession.
Should the Health Department take the lead on education? I think so, but it is not going to happen, the interest in being a front runner in anything is minimal.
There are many doctors who are very proactive in this area and this is a good thing.
This was just the begining of me taking apart my little survey. It does make life interesting.
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