Ticked Off – Part 1

Lots of lone star ticks live on our farm.

by Martok

Lone star tick
Courtesy the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Lone star ticks carry diseases that can make you very sick. Make sure you always check for ticks on you and your animals.

Lots of lone star ticks live on our farm. Sometimes they get on us animals and on our Mom and Dad. Mom says ticks are part of living in the country. But they’re dangerous, too!

Last week, Dad thought he had flu. Really bad flu that gave him a blinding headache, horrible muscle pains and chills. (He slept with three wool blankets on the bed one night) After three days of that, Mom insisted he go see his doctor. She was worried because Dad was so weak. The doctor took his temperature (102.8 degrees F) and some blood tests and sent him straight to the hospital where they put him in the intensive care unit. The hospital doctors said he got there just in time before his vital organs started shutting down.

Dad has a tick-borne illness, either ehrlichiosis or Rocky Mountain spotted fever; they don’t know which because his blood work isn’t back. The good thing is that all tick-borne diseases found in North America like ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, STARI (southern tick-associated rash illness), bebesiosis, tularemia  and Lyme disease are treated with the same drugs, so they could treat Dad without knowing exactly what he had.

This was really scary, so we want to tell you this: If you live in tick country (and that’s most of the United States) and you have serious “flu” symptoms for more than a day or two, go see your doctor right away! Mom and Dad have picked off thousands, maybe millions of attached ticks over the years, so they’ve become kind of complacent. Don’t do that! We animals need our Moms and Dad to take care of us and we don’t want anything to happen to you. Dad is going to be OK, but only because he got treatment in time. He almost died!

We’ll talk more about ticks next week but for now, be careful and watch out for ticks. Fall is one of the times they’re really active. Please don’t become a near-statistic like our dad!

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