Well, it finally happened. I suppose it was inevitable with all the time I spend outdoors. Sunday morning I woke up with what felt like a bruise on my thigh. But it wasn't a bruise, but the tell-tale bulls-eye rash where I had been bit by a tick two weeks ago. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have Lyme Disease. After a couple hours in the emergency room, I got a perscription for three weeks of Ampicillin and hopefully that will be the end of it. For now I'm a bit tired and achey, and the bulls-eye is spreading and hurts like a bee sting when I bump it.
Lyme Disease is a serious malady, and some folks are afraid to landscape their yards for birds because they are afraid to provide potential tick habitat. While I can empathize with that, the best thing to do is to part of the yard clear of vegetation, and then plant up the edges of the yard or other parts of the yard that you won't be walking through regularly. The deer ticks that carry Lyme Disease can even be in the lawn (though again, some claim that would be rare), so I'm not sure there really is a lot you can do to stop them vegetation-wise, though on Saturday I did hear You Bet Your Garden's Mike McGrath on NPR say you could spray your yard regularly with a garlic spray to drive out ticks and mosquitoes. Not sure how well that would work, (he seems to back away from that suggestion on his website) but I'm almost willing to try it. Other ideas are here.
Unfortunately, you can't spray the whole world, and if you are going to go outside, Lyme Disease is a potential problem in this part of the world. The little baby deer ticks are so hard to see, that you really have to be vigilant and do careful checks every day to make sure you don't have one on you. And even then, they could be easy to miss.
So, be safe out there. Know the signs of Lyme Disease, and get medical attention if you even suspect that you have been bitten by a deer tick or have symptoms. Treated early, it is pretty easy to take care of, but if left untreated, it can really mess up your life!
Neil Hayward Gunning for ABA Big Year Record
13 hours ago