Letters to the Editor
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Maryland Is Ticked Off
Dear Bay Weekly:
As I was picking up sticks in my yard, I felt a tiny movement on my arm. I looked down to see a little dot with legs crawling up my hand. It was a deer tick. I tried not to panic. After all, not all deer ticks carry the terrible Lyme disease bacteria. If they do, they usually need to remain attached to your body for at least 24 hours.
Calmly as possible, I took it into my home (so very careful not to drop or lose it), placed it on an index card and covered it with tape. By then I had developed a tension headache and felt bugs all over me. An imaginary itch had engulfed me from head to toe. I checked myself as well as possible especially between my toes and on the back of my knees. I took a shower, hoping that I might discourage any unseen ticks to not attach themselves to me. I still itch all over as I write this letter.
You see, I still take medications to control the repercussions of Lyme meningitis contracted from a deer tick that I never saw nine years ago. I have permanent brain damage, and I still suffer short-term memory difficulties, joint aches, tiredness and low-grade fever when I overextend myself. My story has been published in PJ Langhoff’s It’s All In Your Head: Around the World in 80 Lyme Patient Stories.
The number of reported Lyme Disease cases in Maryland more than doubled in 2007 over 2006 statistics. Virginia has tripled. Nationwide about 20,000 people are affected each year. Yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that only 10 percent of the cases are recorded.
The best precaution is avoidance. When you venture outside, apply an insect repellent containing DEET (n,n-diethyl-m-toluamide) to exposed skin and clothes. When you or people in your care (especially children and the elderly) come indoors, check for ticks.
Ticks cannot jump, hop or fly. You must brush up against one for it to attach. Ticks generally crawl from the bottom up.
Avoid deer paths and other animal trails (including in your yard). Be observant around birdfeeders. Avoid leaf litter, tall grass, low brush and the area where the grass line meets the woods. Use extra care while mowing your lawn, especially any areas that have last year’s leaves and low hanging foliage. Be watchful at ballgames and parks.
Brush off clothes before going inside and make sure that “little crawly feeling” is really nothing.
If you find a tick attached to your body:
1. Remove the tick from your skin right away.
2. Use tweezers to grip the tick as close to the skin as you can and pull it out. Cover your fingers with gloves or a tissue if you don’t have tweezers.
3. Clean the bite with alcohol. Circle the point of contact.
4. Save the tick in a closed and labeled jar or plastic bag.
5. Mark your calendar on the date you found the tick. If a rash or other symptoms develop within three to 32 days, call your doctor.
Your caution may make the difference between a full recovery and a life-long illness.
Cheryl Emery, Owings
Follow the Oyster to Skipjack
Dear Bay Weekly:
I was very pleased to see your book selection in Bay Weekly [Bay Weekly’s Annual Summer Reading Companion: Vol. xvi, No 27: July 3]. My first novel, Skipjack!, was generated when I researched Dr. Brook’s report to the State legislature in 1884 and, of course, his book on the oyster. He is a key character in Skipjack!, aka Dr. Jonathon Marsh.
Jerry Crawford, Severna Park
Editor’s note: Skipjack! starts with a skipjack race on today’s Bay before digging back several generations to examine the decline of oysters and with them, the skipjack fleet; and the rise of tourism and development. It was published by Authorhouse 2005. Find it at www.amazon.com.