First Tick of the Year — 2012 Edition

I haven’t seen any ticks yet, but this popped up on my Facebook wall:



about 12 years ago

They are out and about up here.  I have seen someone pull one off their dog.  Seems very early


about 12 years ago

Annual "I Owe the Universe for Saving My Life, So Listen Up To My Tiresome Lecture":

I was sick, sicker, sickest for 15 months.  Missed several months of work.  The only reason I didn't lose my health insurance is because I had so much sick leave built up.
I had severe back/shoulder/neck pain (months in rehab as a result), severe vertigo (Thanksgiving Eve trip to ER followed by CT scan), bad heart palpitations (Memorial Day trip to ER followed by echocardigram testing), cognitive confusion,etc.  No one knew what was wrong.  Finally my rehab dr thought to test me for Lyme.  I now have permanent muscle damage but otherwise came through undamaged.  I got very, very, very lucky.
Don't just look for a bullseye bite.  Don't give up if you're getting more and more sick and no one knows what to do.  Insist on a Lyme test.  Get a second opinion of the first Lyme dr tells you 'well, too bad, nothing we can do for you now."
Deet up, worry about cancer later, check your dogs carefully.


about 12 years ago

Lyme Disease is serious as fuck. I got it a while back... spend over 10 days with a mega fever before I realized it was NOT the summer flu (whatever that is) and went to the doctor.

Unfortunately, every doctor I saw knew less about Lyme Disease than I did (Duluth is a regional medical center? And a Lyme hotspot? Oops, forgot it's also a regional incompetence and mediocrity center). They gave me 1 round of antibiotics... 2- days Doxycycline. Then 2 months later, the reach came back... and I tested positive again. No, not a reinfection, the first treatment was absolutely inadequate. Thanks St. Lukes! So I took more antibiotics. Since I don't have insurance (self employed. Thanks Republicans!) and don't have $500 to go get tested right and left, currently I have no idea if I have Lyme bacteria in my body.

One of the worst parts is the absolute ignorance and even prejudice I have received related to this. People curl their faces and say "don't you get that from a TICK?" as if I am a disgusting, wretched, slovenly hobo from hell who frolics in tick infested gullies naked, to have contracted this illness. Some people act like I have AIDS, some people act like I am mentally damaged and should be treated with a mixture of sympathy and contempt. I can't say I understand this at all.


about 12 years ago

consuelo, you are correct re doctors up here not having an adequate knowledge of Lyme diagnosis or treatment.  That was certainly my experience.  Thank God for Dr. Kevin Stephen at Duluth Clinic, who treated this aggressively, and successfully, with a six month course of antibiotic treatment.

Other local drs apparently haven't bothered to keep up with proper Lyme treatment.  So, go after those second opinions.  At least if you are like me, someone who had, and did not lose, her health insurance.  If you are someone like consuelo, with no health insurance and continued Lyme symptoms, then I feel a great deal of compassion and fear for you.


about 12 years ago

I found our first tick (rural Douglas County), after a walk in the woods 10 days ago.

I have a student in my Anthropology and Contemporary Human Problems class who coincidentally just today presented on chronic Lyme and the refusal by the medical system to acknowledge its existence. The annual reported cases of Lyme are around 34,000 in the US, but the CDC suggests that may be an undercount of 10-12 times the actual number of cases.

The tests for the actual spirochetes is expensive, but the anti-body tests are very ineffective--I'm sorry about our health system being so broken for you consuelo.

This is something that doctors need to be educated on for certain.

Here's a link to a trailer for a documentary on Lyme called, Under Our Skin:

Here's a link to a Lyme advocacy group:

The group has a page of info and links for alternative treatments at


about 12 years ago

Pulled a tick off the dog yesterday.

Lyme isn't the only thing you get from ticks around here. The dog got ehrlichiosis a few years ago, and so did a pal of mine. My friend was sicker than hell. 

Speaking of early signs of spring, I heard frogs singing on Saturday. Chorus frogs and wood frogs, off Jean Duluth Road.


about 12 years ago

Dr Johann Bakken is an infectious disease expert in Duluth. Perhaps you should dig deeper prior to bashing our local medical community?


about 12 years ago

digit3, if that is directed at me, let me tell you that you are just plan, flat out wrong, and our local medical community is lucky that I didn't sue the shit out of them for egregious medical incompetence.

The problem is that physicians fall into two camps.  The first camp, as davids points out, simply rejects the idea that chronic, late stage Lyme can be treated.  Why?  Good question.  The other camp believes that chronic Lyme can be treated successfully, and Exhibit #1, Emmadogs, proves that point.

The local medical community should be ashamed that it took several doctors in Duluth Lyme Zone over a year, while I became close to disabled, before it occurred to one of them that a trail runner/hiker with a big hairy dog running partner might have been bitten by a tick!!!  And might have Lyme!!!  Who would have thought it!

And the local medical community should be ashamed of itself that my first infectious diseases doctor said "too bad so sad, nothing we can do for you now, ya just can't really treat late stage Lyme."

And the local medical community should be ashamed that it hasn't dropped everything and adequately reacquainted itself with the current research on Lyme, and/or visited with those in our local medical community who do actually know what they are doing: Thank you, Dr. Stephan for saving my life!

digit3, do I and consuelo and others feel angry and venomous about this?  You betcha.  And I can guarantee you would too, if you had been through this.  Go talk to someone who has permanent health damage because of some in our local medical community who did not do their job to heal.  You dig deeper, then come talk to me.

Thank you for venting.


about 12 years ago

Oops, thank you for letting me vent, is what I meant to say.  Maybe those cognitive problems didn't go completely away :-)


about 12 years ago

The error is in clumping a pretty diverse and complex group of people into a monolithic "medical community." I do sympathize, of course. I have had loved ones experience stories very similar to these - it's a very frightening and severe disease that is frequently mismanaged.

There does seem to be a problem, though. I do recommend looking at publications that Dr. Johan Bakken of St. Luke's has been involved in over the years. Based on abstracts and titles of some of the more recent papers ("Antiscience and ethical concerns associated with advocacy of Lyme disase,") there's plenty of controversy and dissent.

about 12 years ago

I picked up a deer tick outside Gooseberry back in 2004. After three weeks and three different courses of antibiotics, my doc finally did a blood draw and had it sent to the CDC Minneapolis...when it came back, I was positive for Lyme. Finally got me on the correct course of antibiotics. 

I thank my doctor who was as puzzled as I was about the nature of my illness, but was tenacious about finding out what was wrong. I'm not angry, and don't think anyone else should be either. Just be thankful that the proper diagnosis was made and things got dealt with. 

Back then I was one of maybe a handful of reported cases of anyone contracting Lyme north of Duluth. A few years prior to that happening, Lyme was almost unknown up here. With that in mind, it might be a little easier to understand why the medical community has been slow to catch on to tick-borne bacterial infections.

Duluth's classification as a hotspot for Lyme is still pretty recent, as the climate in which deer ticks thrive has just begun to creep northward. As the winters remain warmer than normal, this trend will continue to happen.

Make no mistake: Lyme sucks ass. I think though that bashing the medical community for having difficulty with making a proper diagnosis, given the number of other illnesses that could possibly manifest in the same manner, especially when the occurrence while increasing is still relatively new.


about 12 years ago

I had Lyme disease in 1992. I picked up the tick in Carlton County and was diagnosed at St. Mary's in Duluth. Fortunately, I had the tell-tale bulls-eye rash, so it wasn't much of a mystery. I've never felt worse in my life, but it was treated quickly and the antibiotics worked the first time around. 

My point is, Lyme disease isn't THAT new to this area. There's really no reason for doctors here not to know everything they can about it and have it near the top of their list of things to check for when people come in with symptoms of it.

Paul Lundgren

about 12 years ago

It turns out that we might not have to worry about ticks anymore. Wendy Wolf, the "animal communicator," had a chat with the Queen Tick and told her to leave us alone. 

Tick Talk...I've really gone buggy.

Paul Lundgren

about 12 years ago

Note to journalists:

When you put together a story about black-legged deer ticks and the diseases they carry, please make sure the art department doesn't use a photo of a dog/wood tick (which almost never transmits those diseases) to illustrate the story.

Minnesota Health Department reports early beginning to tick-borne disease season

By the way, I yanked my first dog tick of the season off the ol' family pet on Tuesday. Time to break out the Frontline, folks.


about 12 years ago

We broke out the Frontline about a month ago, just to be on the safe side.  Yesterday, a coworker mentioned that there's some new product available for dogs; it's supposed to be more effective than Frontline; but I'm blanking on the product's name.  Something-something 3D, I think it was.

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