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Beware the attack of the ticks: some can give you Lyme disease, says AMA

By Tamas Mondovics

Mountain City resident Robert Rackley, 80, is no stranger to his mountainous surroundings. While his outdoor activities are a bit more centered around working on keeping his nearly 10-acre property of Doug Hill Road, looking pristine and inviting Rackley is also aware of the uninvited critters and insects that have a way to find their way into any home and causing some trouble before leaving; if they get a chance to leave at all.

Rackley, experienced the truthfulness of this recently as he recalls waking up in the middle of the night to something biting his back, at a spot that he could not reach. Looking in the mirror revealed that something is indeed working hard to cause some damage. Calling on his wife for some help the two quickly realized that the intruder was none other than a tick.

In a recent press release Dr. Robert R. Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control [CDC], emphasized that while the height of summer, a time of year when people are most vulnerable to insect-borne diseases is coming to an end, a threat will still be with there well into the Fall.

Redfield warned: “A growing list of diseases caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea have confronted the U.S. in recent years, making a lot of people sick.”

Tick attacks can be particularly nasty for seniors.

“They can cause several different illnesses, most notably Lyme disease,” said Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC). All of these sicknesses can have harsh symptoms, but they rarely result in death, although the elderly have weaker immune systems and are therefore more susceptible,”

According to the CDC the symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, rash, facial paralysis and arthritis and can last up to six months.  Symptoms can be harsh but slow to set in adding that a person could be infected with Lyme disease for a full month with nothing but a small rash at the bite location before more serious symptoms set in.

Later stage Lyme can include increased rashes, partial facial paralysis, arthritis and joint pain, irregular heartbeat, brain and spinal cord swelling, nerve pain and short-term memory loss.”

The good thing is that not all ticks carry Lyme disease. Weber said that it is the blacklegged tick and the western-blacklegged tick that are the culprits.

They are not common in all 50 states. In fact, up until about 20 years, they were common only in the Northeastern United States. But two decades later they can be found in 1,531 counties spread across 43 states. R

According to research biologist at the CDC, Rebecca Eisen, the blacklegged ticks inhabit the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and north-central regions of the United States, and the western-blacklegged tick are found along the Pacific Coast.

The blacklegged tick is much smaller than the dog tick, and the dog tick has white markings on its back. Webber suggests not to panic if found that a tick has attached itself to one’s body.

“You’ve got up to 24 hours before infection can set in,” he said. “So you have time to get help in removing it at an ER, for example.”

That is good news for Rackley, who thanks to some help from his wife was able to remove the nasty insect, in its entirety, before going back to bed sometime after 3 a.m.

Residents are urged not try to squeeze the tick out or use a lit cigarette to coax it out. If one can’t get medical help, use tweezers to grip it as close as possible to its mouth to remove.

To prevent tick bites, the CDC suggests that you:

  • Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear and remain protective through several washings. And that you,
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. EPA’s helpful search tool can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions.

The Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC] [] is a vibrant, vital senior advocacy organization that takes its marching orders from its members. We act and speak on their behalf, protecting their interests and offering a practical insight on how to best solve the problems they face today. Live long and make a difference by joining us today at