Terry Reynolds of Jackson wishes now he had never accepted an invitation from a business partner to chase turkeys in Wisconsin, but he wanted a shot at a Merriam gobbler.
He got the tom he needed to complete his slam, but Reynolds also got something else he didn’t — Lyme disease. Ten years later, he still remembers vividly the details and the agony.
“Apparently I got bit by a tick one day, and after I got home my wife noticed a rash where only a wife would see it — my fanny,” said Reynolds. “I got out of the shower and she saw it. She said, ‘Terry, you got a bulls-eye looking red spot on your bottom.’
“I looked in the mirror, and she was right. It was red and a little itchy but I never really gave it a second thought until a few weeks later when I started feeling a bit off.”
That “off” feeling kept getting worse and he sought medical attention. At first, his doctor was puzzled until after a third visit Reynolds mentioned his Wisconsin trip and the rash.
“He immediately did a test for Lyme disease,” Reynolds said. “It came back positive and he ran it again to make sure, and it came back positive.”
Lyme is rare in Mississippi, according to the State Department of Health, and most cases are like that of Reynolds — victims who were bitten in other areas where Lyme is more prevalent, like the upper Midwest, Atlantic Coast and the West Coast.
“I was lucky in that my doctor had a relative in some northeastern state that had been hit with the disease and as soon as I mentioned the Wisconsin trip and bite he made the connection,” Reynolds said. “That was a few months after I had gotten home and had been treated for flu and tested for gout. After about a month, though, that went away.
“But about six weeks later, I got the rash again on my back and my joints started stiffening and it was painful to walk, like suddenly I had developed arthritis. I had headaches, nausea and it was just awful.”
Fortunately, the treatments he received after the correct diagnosis slowly returned Reynolds to normal.
“I wouldn’t wish that hell on anyone and I tell all my hunting buddies that do whatever it takes to prevent tick bites,” he said. “Believe me, this is one disease where whatever it takes for prevention, it is worth the trouble.”
May is Lyme Disease Awareness month, and according to the Center for Disease Control, there are about 300,000 cases a year.
Here are 10 facts every outdoorsman or woman should know about ticks, provided by Insect Shield.
10. Ticks crawl up. Ticks don’t jump, fly, or drop from trees onto your head and back. If you find one attached there, it most likely latched onto your foot or leg and crawled up over your entire body.
9. All ticks (including deer ticks) come in small, medium and large sizes.
8. Ticks are active even in the winter. Freezing temperatures do not kill deer ticks.
7. Ticks carry disease-causing microbes — Lyme disease bacteria, Babesia protozoa, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, and other rickettsia, even encephalitis-causing viruses, and possibly Bartonella bacteria.
6. Only deer ticks transmit Lyme disease bacteria. The only way to get Lyme disease is by being bitten by a deer tick.
5. For most tick-borne diseases, you have at least 24 hours to find and remove a feeding tick before it transmits an infection. Lyme disease bacteria take at least 24 hours to invade the tick’s saliva.
4. Deer tick nymphs look like a poppy seed on your skin, and in many parts of the country it is believed that about 1 in 4 nymphal deer ticks carry the Lyme disease. They’re easy to miss, their bites are generally painless, and they have a habit of climbing up (under clothing) and biting in hard-to-see places.
3. The easiest and safest way to remove a tick is with pointy tweezers. The next step is to simply pull the tick out like a splinter.
2. Clothing with built-in tick repellent, such as Insect Shield, helps in preventing tick bites. http://www.insectshield.com/basics
1. Tick bites and tick-borne diseases are completely preventable. There is really only one way you get a tick-transmitted disease and that's from a tick bite. Reducing tick abundance in your yard, wearing tick repellent clothing or sprays every day and treating pets every month are all great actions for preventing tick bites.