It’s nearly a daily reality, that I hear about a person or horse contracting a tickborne illness. I thought it would be prudent to review the facts and share helpful resources. Not all medical professionals are well versed in tick borne diseases, even in high risk regions, so I encourage you to get educated. Here on the east coast, at least nine diseases are transmitted by ticks and they include:
- Anaplasmosis: deer tick
- Babesiosis: deer tick
- Borrelia miyamotoi infection: deer tick
- Ehrlichiosis: lone star tick
- Lyme disease: deer tick
- Powassan disease: deer tick/groundhog tick, primarily in the northeast and Great Lakes
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever: dog tick/Rocky Mountain wood tick
- STARI: lone star tick
- Tularemia: dog tick/wood tick/lone star tick
The 2014 CDC Tickborne Diseases Manual, does a great job identifying ticks, describing disease symptoms, explaining testing methods and details current treatment protocols. The information is presented in easy to read tables. Without a doubt, preventing tick bites is best. Ticks are most abundant in tall grassy or leaf covered areas, so when working in high risk environments be prepared. If possible tuck your pants into a pair of tall boots or socks and then spray your legs with insect repellent containing at least 20% DEET. Several outdoor apparel manufacturers now offer clothing treated with permethrin.
Should you find an engorged tick on your body, prophylaxis may be helpful if the following conditions exist: 1) the tick is identified as an engorged deer tick and was attached for at least 24 hours, 2) the patient resides in an area where the prevalence of Lyme disease in ticks is greater than 20% and 3) prophylaxis can be started within 72 hours of tick removal. Review page 29 of the CDC manual for more information, then consult with your physician.
Please know the Lord desires to partner with you in protecting your health. It is neither selfish nor foolish, to pray for good health and ask the Lord to alert you to potential dangers in a manner you will understand. You need a healthy body to be a good steward to your horses. Jesus models effective prayer for us through his own words recorded in Matthew 6:9-13: “This, then, is how you should pray. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one”. In the center of this prayer lies a gem … your will be done on earth as it is in heaven… Tickborne diseases do not exist in heaven, therefore we can freely ask for protection for ourselves, our loved ones and our horses! Have a great tick free week and join me next time for a discussion of tickborne diseases in horses.