Ticks are something dirty dogs get – or so I used to think.
Truth is, any dog can carry ticks – even your dog.
And guess what? Even you can carry ticks!
What used to be a scourge for dog owners, and an irritation for dogs, has now developed into a very serious health concern for both dogs and humans in Canada.
Lyme Disease transmitted by infected ticks.
From the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation:
“Lyme disease is an inflammatory infection that spreads to humans through tick bites.
Lyme is a borreliosis caused by borrelia bacteria, which commonly infects woodland animals like mice or deer. Ticks pick up the bacteria by biting infected animals, and then pass it on to their human hosts. The are many strains or genospecies of borrelia that cause Lyme disease (borreliosis) in humans just as there are many strains of the flu virus that cause flu symptoms in humans, with some strains more virulent than others.”
How serious a health concern is Lyme Disease for Canadians?
Just ask singer Avril Lavigne.
Or my niece, Jennifer, who was diagnosed with Lyme Disease two years ago this spring.
But, as Jennifer found out, you don’t need to be around a dog, or walking bare-legged through tall grass, to be bitten by a tick carrying Lyme Disease.
Sometimes a gust of wind can be the gateway between a field, a tick…and your scalp.
You’re cringing now aren’t you?
Well, that’s exactly what happened to Jennifer.
“I was in the middle of a large open field near the Ottawa airport. I was still in the city and never thought to even worry about the potential of encountering a tick. It was a very windy day out, and a tiny tick found its way from the grassy field – into my hair!
I had no idea there was a tick embedded in my scalp. Later, I was showering, and felt something that I knew shouldn’t be there. When I couldn’t get it out, I knew it was a tick. I panicked – I had a bug in my head! I yelled for my boyfriend. He confirmed it was a little creature with eight legs. While I freaked out about the tick, my boyfriend was able to safely remove it with a pair of tweezers.”
At the insistence of Jennifer’s mother (because mom always know best, right?), even though she was feeling “fine”, Jennifer made an appointment with her doctor and brought the tick in to have it tested for Lyme Disease. While the tick was sent off to a lab for testing, Jennifer carried on with her planned two-week trip to Europe. After all, she was feeling perfectly normal.
Until she got to Europe.
“While on my trip I began to have headaches, my muscles and joints were sore, and I was extremely tired. When I reached Scotland, my knees were swollen and aching, and my muscles were painful. By the time I got to Ireland, my knees felt the size of softballs and I would suddenly get dizzy. Still not concerned, I thought it was the result of me filling my days with too many adventures and my body was just tired. Not wanting to waste a single minute, I continued to pop more Advil.”
Once home from her trip to Europe, Jennifer received the bad news from her doctor. The tick found on her scalp was indeed carrying Lyme Disease.
The diagnosis was not entirely a surprise. The symptoms she experienced while in Europe, and the tell-tale “bull’s-eye” rash on her scalp that, while difficult to see, was present, could only mean one thing – Lyme Disease.
Jennifer was immediately put on antibiotics for four weeks.
Unfortunately, despite the antibiotic treatment, Jennifer endured many months of lingering effects of the Lyme Disease.
“For months after treatment, my joints continued to swell and ache. My knees were three times their normal size, my hands were arthritic, I had headaches, and felt extremely weak and tired all the time. Eventually, the “bull’s-eye” rash disappeared. After about four or five months my knees and fingers were no longer swollen and painful, and my energy level was back up.
Thanks to the advice from my mother, and early detection, I was able to make a complete recovery. I no longer have Lyme Disease.”
It is important to note that, while the classic “bull’s-eye” rash that Jennifer experienced can be a symptom of Lyme Disease, only a small group of Lyme Disease sufferers ever develop the rash. Of those that do develop a rash, only a very small percentage develop the over-emphasized “bull’s-eye” form. There are many other lesser-known symptoms of Lyme Disease.
Having battled the effects of Lyme Disease herself has not made Jennifer immune to future encounters with this debilitating disease. Just like any of us, Jennifer is always at risk of contracting Lyme Disease from infected ticks.
Want to know more about Lyme Disease prevention and early detection? Click here to see how a Care PlusTM Tick-Test can help!
Disclaimer: Please be sure to contact your doctor for advice if you know you have been bitten by a tick or are experiencing symptoms of Lyme Disease.
Disclosure: Canadian Blog House received compensation for this post. All opinions are our own.