Saturday, March 31, 2007

Polyticks

"The word 'politics' is derived from the word 'poly', meaning 'many', and the word 'ticks', meaning 'blood sucking parasites'." ~ Larry Hardiman

I don't normally sleep all through the night. I usually wake up at least once during the night to attend to "business". I'll spare you the nasty details. It's not just personal needs that drive my nocturnal habits, though. We have dogs. Five of them, to be exact.

At least one of the dogs, Chelsea, a fourteen year old Golden Retriever, has roughly the same middle of the night needs as I do, and a rather loud, persistent bark. I usually have to get up at least once to let her outside.

Give me some time. I will get to the point.

We live in a wooded area, on five acres, about a mile or more to the nearest cluster of businesses and, in this case, government buildings. I have only lived here since October, and I have always lived in metropolitan areas, so I was unprepared for my encounter with some of the less pleasant denizens of rural Virginia:

All four stages of Ixodes scapularis, the black-legged or deer tick with dime for size comparison.

Ticks. Deer Ticks, specifically.

Here's the point:

The other night, I awoke, as usual, about one o'clock in the morning, and stumbled through the dark towards the bathroom. As I walked, I scratched my belly, when I noticed what felt like a small growth on the right side, front, of my abdomen.

When I turned on the light, I was surprised to see what appeared to be a blood blister on my stomach. I prodded it, squeezed it, and finally succeeded in popping it...off. It wasn't a blood blister at all. It was a tick.

All the horror stories about ticks and the diseases they cause came rushing back to me like a good snort of scotch. Did I leave the head inside my skin? If I did, will it become infected? If it becomes infected, will it turn into Lyme's disease? Will I get really sick and will I eventually die a painful and torturous death?

So, at approximately 1:15 in the morning, I searched the internet to find information on Ticks and Lyme's disease.

Turns out I have little to worry about. According to what I read through bleary eyes, the deer tick only feeds three times in it's lifetime, which is two years. It cannot infect anything with any disease the first time it feeds. Only if it picks up the bacteria that causes disease on it's first feeding can it spread disease. If it happens to contract a bacteria that causes a disease during the first or second feeding, it may infect it's host on the second and third feedings. And then, usually, only the female tick infects anything. The male tick feeds for only a short time before dropping off. The female tick stays there until it engorges itself. The female is most likely to do the infecting.

One could say something derogative about females of every species here, but I will not stoop to that level.

"OK", said I, to myself as I perused the fountain of information before my eyes, "that's not as bad as I thought." But then came the really good news. It said even if it carries the bacteria, Ticks don't infect their host until it has been feeding for at least about 36 hours.

I know my little guest hadn't been on me for more than a few hours. I was safe.

I went back to bed and blissful, carefree, welcome, sleep.

About two hours later, when Chelsea (see? I told you I'd make things clear) began her obnoxious barking, wanting to go outside, I again got up and stumbled through the dark once more to let the canine octogenarian outside.

Again, scratching myself, I noticed another growth, this time on the other side of my belly on the side. Turning on the light, I found, to my chagrin, another tick there.

This time, however, armed with more knowledge about these parasites than I had before, I simply picked it off, disposed of it, and went back to bed.

In the morning, while scratching Beast's (our pug) belly, I found a tick on him.

We have, at our house, poly ticks.

By the way, in case you are wondering, many of the techniques for ridding ourselves of ticks don't work, according to the various web sites I studied. Petroleum jelly doesn't really suffocate them. They can still breathe. Burning them off is not advised. It can lead to more problems unrelated to infection.

They say the best way to get them off you is to pick them off with tweezers.

So now, my morning routine has a new wrinkle. Now, in addition to scratching myself and showering and making myself smell not so bad, and making a breakfast sandwich, I also check myself thoroughly for parasites.

So far so good. I haven't been invaded since that horrible night. But I still wake up at least once a night.

15 comments:

Gayle said...

Poly ticks, eh? I love Hardiman's definition! LOL!

I live in the country too Mark, and I have four dogs and two cats. They get a dose of Revolution once a month between their shoulder blades which not only keeps the ticks off of them, it also protects them from flees and most importantly, Heartworm. It's expensive, but it will keep the ticks out of your house and is worth every penny. You can get cheaper stuff over the counter, but it won't protect them from Heartworm, which is carried by mosquitoes.

mudkitty said...

I'm worried about fleas.

Poison Pero said...

Too bad the Lyme Disease vaccine is no longer in production...Not that it worked that well.

Where the hell are you living Mark? I've never even seen a tick in Phoenix. Maybe they are heat sensitive.

Either way, check out the CDC site (below). It has some good ways to protect yourself from these Democrats.........Err, blood sucking ticks.

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/lyme/ld_prevent.htm

Mark said...

Welcome back, Pero. According to what I read, Deer Ticks are only indigenous to three parts of the country. Most are found here in the Northeast. Some are found on the west coast, and a few in the northeastern part of the midwest, like Wisconsin, Minnesota, etc.

Wait a minute. Those parts of America are blue states! Maybe you're on to something there.

D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

Try getting a load of seed-ticks.

mudkitty said...

I just hope all these "ticks" don't migrate west.

Trader Rick said...

1. Start taking 160 mg. of Saw palmetto extract (standaradized) twice a day.

2. mow your grass and keep it mowed.

3. Get the dog a coon-proof doggy door.

mudkitty said...

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2007/03/31/a-very-spartan-operation/

Mark said...

Mudkitty, what does that article have to do with Deer Ticks?

Abouna said...

We need to come up with a good disinfectant to use against these little blood suckers, especially against the more vicious and ravenous
Pelosi and Hillary....oops I mean the female varity of these poly ticks.

Marshall Art said...

FIVE DOGS!!!!! ARE YOU FREAKIN' NUTS???!!!!!

mudkitty said...

Sorry...I meant that for another thread!

Goat said...

Ticks, go blackberry picking in Dixie and discover redbugs as well. Pulling ticks off our dogs and ourselves is normal in the south.If you Go for a walk in the woods, go swimming afterwards in your cloths and strip while in the water, shake them out well in the water and rub yourself down real well all over especially hairy regions, beltlines, ankles while under water. Another little outdoor worry for a newbie Yank to the South, crabs, as in body lice are found naturally as well in the swamps. So you have moved south a bit,eh.???

mudkitty said...

Chiggers.

Mark said...

I'm shocked, Mudkitty. I thought you were politically correct. Them aint chiggers, them's chegroes.