About ticks and Lyme Disease
by Dr Joann (Jody) Bowle-Evans
Tick bites are a problem especially if they are not seen and there is no Bull’s Eye rash because the microbes (bugs) transmitted with a tick bite can, like the syphilitic spirochete, cause early problems, local problems and then late chronic diseases that include Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, a number of autoimmune diseases (when the body attacks itself), a number of serious neurological disorders including M.S. (multiple sclerosis), a form of dementia, depression and anxiety to mention a few problems. Recently there has been a publication by Dr. Allan MacDonald, a highly regarded pathologist, in which Borrelia was found in 5 patients who had died of glioblastoma multiforme, a malignant brain tumor; another study he did in which he found nematodes (parasites) loaded with Borrelia in the brains on autopsy of patients who had died form M.S. (multiple Sclerosis) + previously he found in seven out of ten brain specimens tested positive for the specific DNA of Borrelia. I call this chronic state which is caused by Borrelia (known as Lyme disease) and co-infections (esp. problematic being Babesia and Bartonella) MSIDS (multiple system infectious disease syndrome) a term coined by Dr Richard Horowitz in his book Why Can I not Get Better, because it can infect many organs and tissues in the body such as the gut, tendons and joints, the skin, nerve tissue, and the brain. This is why early intervention is key to prevent long term disability. It is also known to be implicated in autism and like syphilis is transmitted not only by ticks but also through the placenta.
So what to do if you have a tick bite?
Take a picture of it before you remove it.
Then use fine tweezers or a tick removal kit to slowly remove it by pulling up steadily and slowly until it releases its’ hold on you so that you avoid leaving the head behind in the wound. Do not squeeze the body to get it out or use any chemicals on the insect. Clean the wound.
Place the tick in a double zip lock plastic bag. Public Health stated they needed the tick in a sterile plastic container (such as used for midstream urines) and take it to your family doctor to have him or her sign the form that is needed to take it into the Public Health which in Collingwood is on 280 Pretty River Parkway. I think the sterile container is overkill personally. Public Health only tests for Borrelia. Google Surveillance Form for Tick Identification to obtain the form. Please note ticks will stay alive for months tolerating very adverse conditions – you may consider putting it into the freezer until you have time to take it into your family doctor.
Or Google www.geneticks.ca where they test for other microbes then Borrelia in particular Bartonella species, Babesia microti, Babesia duncani, and Anaplasma Phagocytophilum which I think is even more useful.
Transmission of an infection goes from seven per cent if under 24 hours to 50 per cent if 60 hours post bite. Treatment can consist of antibiotics or anti-microbial herbals. Not all ticks carry microbes.
See your family doctor or a Lyme literate naturopath or MD to decide on possible treatment and for follow-up. Symptoms can occur within a few days to weeks or decades later.
Early symptoms are like a “summer flu” and consist of fever, chills, malaise, headache, fatigue, stiff neck, arthralgias, myalgias, paresthesia, sore throat. Thirty to 50 per cent of patients will have no rash. Most patients are unaware of a tick bite.
A blood test for antibodies is not useful immediately after a bite – if it is done and it is positive this would reflect previous exposure.
Treatment with Doxycycline for tick bites recommended by ILADS is Doxycycline 100 mg 2 x a day for 21 days along with probiotics and sometimes using a higher dose or for longer depending on the length of time it is attached. Prophylaxis only reduces risk by 50 per cent so follow up is important. It is also possible to treat with herbal anti-microbials.
The highest risk is children age 4-5 years old and up to age 14. Children under nine are treated with Amoxil.
Careful follow up with your Lyme literate physician or naturopath is important if you have any symptoms that would require assessment and retreatment of failures.
To prevent tick bites, wear pants and long sleeved shirts if you go off a path or are working in long grass. Tuck your pants into your socks. Avoid long grasses and bushes. Ticks do not fly or jump but attach to you as you brush the area they are attached to
Wear light coloured clothes so it is easier to see the ticks
Use an insect repellent on your clothes and to exposed skin areas such as your wrists, ankles and neck – deet works but is toxic especially for children – so best to use PiActive where the insect repellent is Icaridin. PiActive is available in Glen Huron. Or one with Picaridin which is the repellent of first choice by the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Canadian Advisory Committee on Tropical Medicine and Travel. Essential oils of eucalyptus and lemongrass can be used to deter tick attachment.
Check your clothes for ticks often and ditto for your children and your animals. You can put your clothes into a hot dryer. It is helpful to do a tick check after an outdoor activity and consider a shower – having someone check your back. Also check those nether parts i.e. under the arms in and in the groins, around the ears, in the navel, check the hair and back of your neck.
Dr. Joann (Jody) Bowle-Evans, BA, MD, CFPC, MDPAC(C), is a Family physician specialized in the practice of Integrative Psychotherapy and consultation regarding chronic complex diseases.