Lyme Disease – The Black-Legged Tick Can be Deadly

Lyme Disease – The Black-Legged Tick Can be Deadly

  • Jun. 8, 2020 6:10 p.m.

Lyme Disease – The Black-Legged Tick Can be Deadly

What a relief to be outside after being isolated by the coronavirus. But beware! Warmer weather means that ticks are in the woods around you. Or even in your own back yard. A report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal shows, a tick bite can trigger diverse and deadly consequences.

One case involved a 37-year-old man complaining of flu symptoms, fever, sore throat and joint pain. He had been in a tick-infested area several weeks earlier but did not recall a tick bite. His doctor diagnosed a viral infection and the patient improved.

Weeks later heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and chest pains sent him to the emergency room. There was no evidence of the typical tick rash. But an ECG showed complete heart block. The diagnosis? Lyme carditis. Treatment of the disease was started. Yet the man’s condition deteriorated, and he died.

Another case involved a 4-year-old boy who developed fever, vomiting, general weakness, unsteady gait, and disorientation. Fortunately, doctors made a speedy diagnosis, antibiotics were administered, and the boy recovered.

A third patient, a 57-year-old woman, suffered severe neurological symptoms, showing several organs in the body can be affected. It’s why Lyme Disease has been called, “the great imitator”. And why diagnosis is often delayed.

Families with country homes are well aware of the pleasures of outdoor life. But they know the hazards of tick season which runs from April through October. So how do you protect yourself?

First, know your enemy. The black-legged tick is an insect related to spiders and mites. It has a two-year life cycle and needs a host to feed.

Next, ticks are very plentiful. Studies show that there may be 2,000 infected ticks in an acre of forested land.

If bitten by a tick, you might find it lodged in your skin and needing immediate removal. But ticks can bite, eat, and move on without you knowing. So you need to be aware of signs you’ve been bitten. A tick bite might produce nothing more than a little bump, but it can also result in a rash that appears even as long as a month after a bite. The classic tick bite rash looks like a bull’s eye as it’s red, circular, with a clear center and red ring around it. But don’t be fooled by not seeing it. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that only three people in10 get this specific rash. Bites may be painless, or painful, itchy and hot. It can be associated with low grade fever, headache, sore muscles, fatigue and often joint pain.

The best Rx is prevention, prevention, prevention. It’s worth every effort, given the risk of cardiovascular and neurological complications. This means wearing clothing that protects arms and legs. And the use of insect repellent.

Follow a strict routine of searching to ticks on all parts of the body after being in tick territory. This involves complete removal of clothing and having a proper tweezer available if a tick is found.

How soon should it be removed? Some studies say that it takes 24 hours before a tick transmits Lyme Disease. But good sense says it’s prudent to remove it as soon as possible to decrease the risk of transmission. And don’t forget to check pets for ticks or give them anti-tick medication.

If untreated, the disease strikes again in about three to five months. About one in 10 patients develop an irregular heart rate, or heart block. The majority recover after a short time.

Neurological complications develop in about 10 percent of cases. For instance, peripheral nerves may be involved, or they may suffer form Bell’s Palsy, meningitis or encephalitis.

A final cycle of Lyme disease starts from five months to five years following the first infection. Patients tend to complain of pain in large joints such as the knee.

So, take this disease seriously. Never forget prevention.

Sign-up at www.docgiff.com to receive our weekly e-newsletter. For comments, contact-us@docgiff.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A 36-year-old Eckville man was sentenced in Red Deer provincial court to 18 years in prison and declared a long-term offender for abusing children as young as two.
Advocate file photo
Central Alberta pedophile sentenced to 18 years in prison and declared a long-term offender

Eckville man abused nearly a dozen children as young as two over nearly a decade

Sundre RCMP charged two people with drug trafficking. (File photo by Advocate staff)
$50,000 solar light tower stolen in 2019, recovered in Central Alberta

A solar light tower valued at over $50,000 was recovered by Wetaskiwin… Continue reading

Red Deer transit buses are returning to a regular half-hour schedule. (Advocate file photo).
Red Deer Transit returns to regular bus frequency

Buses will return to running every half hour on Wednesday

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

WASHINGTON — Canada won’t stop trying to convince U.S. president-elect Joe Biden… Continue reading

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

File photo
Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit recovers valuable stolen property

Property valued at over $50,000 recovered by Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit.

Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, holds a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
COVID-19 vaccines: Canadians torn between helping the world and helping themselves

MONTREAL — The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is highlighting the disconnect between the… Continue reading

A worker installs flags on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Washington. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/David Phillip
‘Very mesmerizing’: Canadians eye Biden inauguration with relief, anxiety

Katie Thompson noticed a pattern emerging with appointments made at her chiropractic… Continue reading

Parliamentary interpreter Nicole Gagnon poses for a photo on Parliament Hill, Tuesday January 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Parliamentary hearings over Zoom an ongoing headache for translators

OTTAWA — Each day, translator Nicole Gagnon wakes up and heads to… Continue reading

People lineup at a hotel for the homeless before the 8 p.m. COVID-19 curfew on Jan. 11, 2021, in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Montreal mayor wants homeless exempted from curfew in wake of Innu man’s death

Montreal’s mayor is calling on the provincial government to exempt homeless people… Continue reading

Conservative MP Derek Sloan arrives at West Block Thursday December 3, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Tories unsettled over whether ends justifies the means in ouster of Derek Sloan

OTTAWA — Efforts to oust controversial Conservative MP Derek Sloan from the… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question as he participates in a news conference at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
No Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses to be shipped to Canada next week: Fortin

OTTAWA — Canada is not going to get any vaccine does from… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question as he participates in a news conference at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Cancel foreign trips because travel rules could change suddenly, Trudeau says

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says any Canadian planning an international… Continue reading

Most Read