A Cautionary Tale - Photographing Nature in the Northeast U.S.

Discussion in 'Nature' started by william_hahn|1, Jul 12, 2004.

  1. (I hope this is in the right forum with the correct category.)

    A short cautionary tale about photographing in the woods in the
    Northeast United States.

    I frequently spend the weekends photographing in rural Massachusetts -
    large and medium format as well as 35mm. (Two weekends ago I spent
    several happy hours photographing frogs at a small pond.) Am
    approaching my mid-fiftie's, and pains in my joints (knees, elbows)
    are not unusual, particularly after hauling the 4x5 up and down
    the hills and dales.

    Recently I had knee pains slightly worse than usual, but wrote it up
    to aging and the weekend exercise. I was wrong this time. Pain in
    the joints, particularly the knees, is a symptom of Lyme Tick disease.
    While I thought I was taking reasonable precautions, clearly they were
    inadequate this time and a tick nailed me on the inner side of my
    upper arm.

    So, if you're photographing in the Northeast, and suddenly experience
    pain in knees/joints, inspect yourself for tick bites/rashes, and if
    you have any, SEE A DOCTOR PRONTO. I don't want anyone else to get
    this disease - it means more doxycyclene for me!

    Thanks for your attention. (Googling for Lyme Tick disease will get
    you a wealth of information - or go to WebMD and look there.)

  2. Two years ago my wife got bit while we were camping, and started feeling terrible. We had no idea what was going on. Finally it got so bad that I threw her in the car and took her to the hospital. Diagnosis: Lyme Disease. She spent 5 days in ICU on a morphine drip and 30 more days on doxycyclene - which is not a pleasant experience, either.

    Watch out for ticks, and if you see a bite showing a "bulls-eye" pattern get to the doctor. The bulls-eye can take several/many days to show up.
  3. I just got back from a trip back home to ME, and it's a particularly bad tick year back there. Also It's the smaller deer ticks, which are harder to see, that carry lyme disease (not the bigger dark brown wood ticks), so be sure to check carefully for them. And of course insect repelant is always recomended, but remember it just lowers the number of ticks you'll find on you, you'll still find some.

  4. Very light colored clothing can be of some help... it's a lot easier to spot them and gives a potential early indication of how numerous they are in a given area. And of course it's not a bad idea to secure the bottom of pants legs by having long socks ride over them.

    Main message here is to pre-strategize ways to minimize exposure and know of exposure as rapidly as possible. Even deer ticks cause me concern and I take fairly frastic measures to avoid.
  5. I'm not sure about the US, but in Europe you can shots to stop some tick problems. Ask your local doctor. If i remember the more you plan ahead the better.
  6. Thanks for the heads up, and I'm sorry to hear that you have to deal with this! It took weeks for the pain to emerge? Dang! I hope that you're all fixed up better than new real soon.

    I'm curious, because you stated 'northeast' is this a regional thing? We have our fair share of mosquitos down here in Florida.
  7. To answer Gloria's questions:

    The disease is caused by a deer tick found primarily in the Northeast,
    which is why I categorized this post under 'location'.

    I'm not sure exactly when I was bit, but I suspect the knee pains started within a week of the bite. As the followups indicate, reactions to the disease can vary widely....I'm quite fortunate (so far). Friends theorize that I'm so miserable all the time that the
    effects of the disease are lost in the noise.... :)
  8. Just to add to the precautionary tale: The telltale 'bulls eye' rash that, at least, I was expecting to precede Lyme apparently shows up in less than half of all suspected Lyme cases. I thought I'd dodged a bullet when I saw no rash form from the bite I received. It was 18 months of unexplained aches, pains and visual disturbances before my doctor and I really tied it all together. Treatment has gotten almost routine here in the Northeast, so there is really no reason to suffer if there is any reason to suspect Lyme infection.

    Best advice, learn to identify deer ticks and try to save the bugger that bites you to help convince your doc that antibiotics might be warranted.
  9. The ticks can be found all over North America, including such states as Missouri and Minnesota. The vaccine was/is available in the U.S. too, unless lawyers drove it out with lawsuits. Regular insect repellant (deet) does not work for anything but mosquitos. You can spray Permanone on your clothes (not skin!) to repel ticks. Best bet is a mesh net suit or the Rhyno Skin outfit from Cabelas. Ticks like to climb up into your hair from your shirt, but will attach where ever they can. Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics, but the trick is knowing you have it. I'm already wearing a bugsuit around here because of stupid West Nile disease. The mosquito population is horrible in the northcentral U.S. this year.

    Kent in SD
  10. Thanks William! Lots of good info ... and in the following posts too. Well, get better soon and thanks again for the heads up. Would very much like to avoid these nasties.
  11. To confirm Steven's response: in my case I never saw the "bulls-eye"
    rash they tell you about, just a red circular area that spread and

    And thanks to Kent for the correction (these ticks
    are apparently not just in the Northeast) and the additional information.

  12. Tick-borne Lyme Disease is also an issue here in the SF Bay Area. I have seen warnings in areas in the Berkeley Hills and am fairly sure they exist in the Marin Headlands and up to Stinson Beach/Point Reyes.

    It's good to do a thorough check after being out in the field because, apparently, the tick has to be attached for 24-36 hours before the Lyme Disease virus is transferred. They are small and easy to miss, though, particuarly on dogs who are affected by the disease in the same way.
  13. elf


    I had an encounter with a deer tick a month ago. I found it starting to get embedded when I woke up in the middle of the night and pulled it out. Went to the doc. Doc said:

    10% of deer ticks carry the spirocete. Takes up to 3 weeks for the bulls eye to appear if it's going to. If it doesn't that doesn't mean you don't have any problem. The tick has to be engorged, not just attached, for at least a day before you are at risk.

    Ticks don't like water.

    Bathe as soon as you get out of the woods or fields, not after you've gone to bed for the night.

    Put your clothes in the wash when you take them off when you come in.

    Check your bod for strange bumps. It might not be that old wart on your back.
  14. I want to remind everybody to not just panic when bitten by a tick. As someone pointed
    out correctly, Lyme disease is carried by deer ticks, which are generally the size of a
    needlehead. To my knowledge and experience, regular ticks do not carry the disease. I
    have suffered at least twenty tick bites over the past four years, many of them in the
    American northeast and so far, have had no complications. In other words, just because a
    tick "gets" you doesn't automatically mean that you will be sick.
  15. As others have posted the very small deer ticks are the ones that carry lime disease, however other ticks cary other diseases. If you get bit by a tick pay attention to any changes in your health. When it comes to Lime diease, everyone's body reacts differently to it and doctors do not always correctly diagnose it. My very healthy brother ended up in ICU after what may have been lime disease. I say may becuase he never found a tick on himself but that is how the doctor's treated him. He had scarring on his heart and had to have a pacemaker installed at age 34. After a few months of antibiotics and close monitering the pacemaker was removed. He is fine now but never wants to go through that again.
    If you have a dog that is another way that ticks end up on you. I use frontline on my English Springer Spaniel who loves the outdoors. What happens is the ticks jump on him while we are out and about. We then come home, a tick may be on him but the the tick doesn't bite him, they jump off him because of the frontline and look for another victim.
  16. I've been shooting on the Outer Banks of North Carolina several times every summer for the past five or six years. The place is infested with those darn Deer Ticks. Although I try hard to avoid the little critters, I have pulled many of them off of myself, after the day's shooting. Fortunately, I have never had a problem. They have to be on you long enough to cause a problem. They lodge themselves in groins, etc. and are not easily noticeable. Examine yourself, or with soemone elses help, if you suspect you have been in a tick infested area. They are not always easily seen. The males and females are very different in appearance and size. One is bigger and redish and the other is very small and black. If I remember correctly, I think it's the little, black male that causes the problem. WARNING: If you find one on yourself, take it off immediately. DON'T squeeze it's body when you pull it off. That will push the tick's bodily contents into your blood system. Use a tweezer and grasp the tick with the tweezer by its head, then pull it gently off by its head. If it hasn't been on you for about 24 hours or longer, you probably will not develop a problem, even if it is one of the 10% that are Lyme Disease carriers. I'd either have the tick identified as a deer tick, or keep it in a little 35mm film can, just in case I developed symptoms later. Those nasty little things scare the heck out of me.

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