Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Recently a disease transmitted by a tick developed into encephalitits (an inflammation of the brain) and a human being died. The case was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine (http://content.nejm.org). It is not usual for an encephalitis to be the end result of a tickborne illness--the disease can, in fact, produce very few symptoms--but obviously death does sometimes occur. Ticks may also be carrying other diseases, such as babesiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Lyme disease, that occasionally become a serious threat to life. The bottom line: it is that time of year to be wary of ticks. Most insect repellents, despite the knowledge that ticks are not insects, repel ticks. Wear light-colored clothing, allowing you to see free-ranging ticks and pick them off before they embed. After a walk outside, a careful inspection for ticks on your body is highly recommended. Remember ticks like to embed in well-hidden spots, and ticks in the nymph stage, when they are incredibly tiny, can pass germs--you will do well, therefore, to have a friend help you with the inspection. Remove all embedded ticks immediately with sharp-pointed tweezers, grasping the tick perpendicular to its long axis, and gently pulling it straight out. If an illness develops after removing an embedded tick, seek a physician's evaluation ASAP.