Tick season: be warned

Dear Editor,

Summer is here, and with it tick season. Beware of the ticks and their cargo of Lyme disease. They are very dangerous.

In case anyone hasn’t heard about it, Vermont seems to be ground zero for the attacks of ticks. And I’m very qualified to speak about it, and Lyme disease, of which they are the primary carriers.

Lyme disease, if untreated, leads to chronic ailments, mental debilitation, and discomfort. I first heard about it about 40 years ago when an Iowa member of Congress was compelled to resign because the ailment had caused such physical problems and mental deterioration that he couldn’t do his work. At that time, the seriousness of the disease was not understood.

Since then it has become a focus of attention within the medical community. Although originating in New England – first noticed in Lyme, Conn., hence the name – it has moved across the Northeast and into the border states and the Midwest.

Three years ago, here at our Vermont place, I sent a few hours during a balmy June visit cutting limbs from a tree in the backyard. When I returned to Florida, I developed serious flu like symptoms. My better half gave me a quick going over and found on my side where I had not noticed it, the characteristic livid bull’s eye rash that marks the Lyme disease infection, transmitted by a tick bite. The rash was a whopper, about a foot across.

She hauled me off to the nearest emergency department where the well-informed physicians quickly concurred in the diagnosis. Two days in the hospital, being provided with high doses of antibiotics, a spinal tap, followed by two weeks of daily antibiotics doses, led to the opinion that I was cured and without long-term effects.

I was very glad that – apparently – my mental faculties were not impaired. But a couple of my kids wondered how would anyone have known?

Anyway, flash forward to June 2021. I took my usual customary walk along the road past the house. A downpour soaked me, and when I got back to the house I needed assistance in getting out of my wet clothes. Bingo! There on my back under two layers of shirts – one with a hood – was a tick right where I never would have seen him.

The Missus picked off the little pest, killed him, and put some topical treatment on the spot. Then she advised that I head for an ER for what she said was a quick treatment that an online medical site said would squelch any infection if taken within 72 hours.

So off I went to Dartmouth-Hitchcock, where the very attentive and thorough ER crew within a short time dosed me with two capsules of doxycycline monohydrate, also known as Monodox, intended to prevent infection. Medical science to the rescue.

So now I rest easy.

A couple of footnotes. My treatment for the disease three years ago with antibiotics ravaged my intestinal system, slaughtering good bacteria as well as bad, so that I was severely constipated. A couple of weeks of store bought replenishment eventually cured me, but it wasn’t pleasant.

And I am informed that the medicine that I just received is a common treatment for gonorrhea and chlamydia. Boy, what a relief! Uh, about the treatment for potential Lyme disease that is.


Bruce Graham

Chester, Vt.

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