Announcing “Tick Hunting Season”

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This particular “Tick Hunting Season” announcement is probably not going to go the way you first thought. The reality is that ticks are doing the hunting for humans and their pets to burrow into the nice, warm victim bodies. We don’t hunt them, they hunt us.

There have been countless news stories explaining that the weather this year has been great for the tick population.  It’s no wonder that readers and viewers care about ticks. A human taking a pleasant walk in the woods or petting of a dog is all that a bloodsucking tick needs to spread disease and misery.



Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Early signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease include chills, headache, muscle and joint pain, fever and swollen lymph nodes. The sneaky part is that these symptoms can be mistaken as flu symptoms.

When Lyme Disease goes undiagnosed and untreated, the symptoms can progress. They can be debilitating. Each of the symptoms can also be indicative of other diseases and health problems. This is another reason that Lyme Disease can be misdiagnosed for years.


Some of Chronic Lyme Disease symptoms are:

·         Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)

·         Fibromyalgia

·         Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord

·         Headaches and neck stiffness

·         Arthritis type of joint pain

·         Muscle and heart symptoms

·         Rashes


Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)

CIRS happens in response to repeated exposure to toxins. This causes the immune system to go haywire. CIRS can be triggered by the combination of mycotoxins, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other inflammatory toxins found in water-damaged environments. Lyme Disease is often one of the exposures that underlies CIRS


The Role of Mold and Other Toxins in Lyme Disease and CIRS

Only some individuals are at risk for reacting to Lyme Disease or any mold and biotoxin related diseases.


Genetic factors, individual health histories, weakened immune systems, viral, parasitic, bacterial, or other co-infections play a role in CIRS. Auto-immune diseases and exposure to mold and toxic VOCs can also be triggers to those diseases. This is complicated.


Some Individuals Can Not Recover from Lyme Disease or CIRS

These diseases are the sum total of the factors in a personal health and exposure history. It is not easy to reverse the cumulative health events that get people ill. It can be as difficult to identify and correct the contaminants that prevent patient recovery as diagnosing the disease. Once again, this whole thing is complicated. 


Professionals to Identify Building Conditions that Make People Ill

Mold and the biotoxins common to a building that has moisture issues is the most logical place to start. This process is more in depth than simple mold testing. It is like CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) for buildings. Hidden moisture is only one of many possible health robbing culprits.


There are products, materials, building practices and dozens of factors that can create exposure hazards for sensitive individuals. Hazards can be as simple as improperly installed plumbing, heating systems, or using the wrong kind of cleaning products in a building. In one recent case, the use of the wrong type of furniture stain on refinished flooring resulted in a toxic soup of VOCs in a home that was so intense that the results were higher than the chart used by the testing lab. Overuse of a toxic chemical by a remediator was a problem rendering another home uninhabitable.


Simply put, when someone is ill in a building, it takes more than considering mold exposure. Professionals with that level of training are rare and often difficult to find. If you are looking for these types of individuals, explore websites for individuals that have more information than mold testing and deal with sick building syndrome from the building science perspective. 


Finding the Medical Professional to Treat Chronic Diseases Including Lyme

The practice of medicine is rapidly changing. Traditionally, the reversal of symptoms was the goal of practitioners. As an example, if you had a headache, they would suggest that you take something for the headache pain.


There are now medical practitioners who explore the source of the headache and work to resolve the cause of the headache. These are referred to as Functional Medical Professionals, or Holistic Practitioners. The approach of combining conventional and alternative medicine is referred to as Integrative Medicine


In addition to the use of both new and old treatments to correct the causes of medical problems, these practitioners have new research and information to help them recognize previously undiagnosed conditions.  It is not unusual for new patients of Functional Medical practitioners previously had frustrating years of suffering and ineffective treatment. In many cases, prior medical providers had blamed psychological causes for undiagnosed health problems like Lyme Disease.


Many new tests have been developed to determine the exposures that a Multiple Chemical Sensitive individual is experiencing. Many of those tests are available through nationally recognized labs such as Quest or Lab Corp.


There are also treatments that help remove the toxins that have built up in the bodies of individuals suffering for these diseases and syndromes. Web searches will help to identify the medical practitioners that specialize in this approach. 


Finding Professionals to Remediate Buildings

Imagine paying to have a contaminant removed from a home or other building, and having the building be more toxic. It happens more often that you would guess.


Many remediators don’t understand the importance of protecting the building and residents from additional exposures. There are principles of containment, negative air and air scrubbing that should be followed. They should always provide samples of chemicals and products before they are used in a sensitive person’s building.


The Road to Recovery

If you know someone that is chronically ill, it could be Lyme Disease or any one of many other environmentally affected diseases. Individuals with chronic and acute diseases, chemotherapy patients, transplant patients, respiratory patients, and many other individuals need to identify and remove toxins from the home for an opportunity for the best possible quality of life and recovery.


The best course is to find medical and environmental professionals that go beyond treating the symptoms and looking for underlying causes.


Precision Diagnosis for Tick-Borne Diseases?  NIH Article 

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Lone Star tick

Caption: Adult female Lone Star tick
Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH

For many of us who enjoy roaming the great outdoors, there are some things to watch out for. Now is the peak season for “tick checks.” An estimated 90 species of these blood-sucking arachnids inhabit the continental United States, and tick-borne diseases have been on the rise over the past three decades. While not all tick bites will make you sick, the critters can transmit at least 19 types of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa known to cause Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and a host of other potentially serious illnesses [1].

If a tick becomes attached to your skin, there’s currently no quick way to determine if you’ve been exposed to a pathogen and, if so, which specific one(s). If you get sick, getting a definitive diagnosis in order to get the right treatment for your tick’s particular pathogen(s) can involve multiple tests at a cost of about $200 each. Wouldn’t it be great if there was one simple, low-cost way to test for all major tickborne diseases? Such a test is now under development by NIH-funded researchers, and it recently passed an encouraging early research milestone.

In a recent paper in Scientific Reports, the researchers describe development of a Tick-Borne Disease (TBD) Serochip that, using a single sample of blood, can simultaneously detect and distinguish among antibodies associated with exposure to eight common tick-borne pathogens [2]. Those pathogens cause: Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, human monocytic ehrlichiosis, human granulocytic anaplasmosis, Borrelia miyamotoi disease, Heartland virus disease, and Powassan virus disease.

The TBD Serochip, according to the researchers, was also able to identify whether a person had been infected by more than one tick-borne pathogen. That capacity is very important in real-world settings because an individual tick often carries more than one type of infectious agent and, in the case of deer ticks, as many as five! The next step for the team, which was co-led by Rafel Tokarz and Nischay Mishra of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, New York, is to optimize the technology further and conduct additional studies to determine the safety and efficacy of this testing approach in a clinical setting.

In the meantime, NIH’s infectious disease experts recommend that you take the following precautions to help protect yourself and your family from tick-borne diseases: Try to avoid tick-infested areas, such as areas with tall grass, leaf litter, or dense shrubs. If you plan on venturing into such places, wear long pants and tuck the legs into your socks, and spray your skin and/or your clothing with an insect repellent containing DEET, permethrin, or picaridin. And, yes, it certainly can’t hurt to check yourself, your children, and your pets for ticks on a daily basis and carefully remove any ticks that you happen to find.


[1] Tickborne diseases of the United States, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 22, 2017

[2] A multiplex serologic platform for diagnosis of tick-borne diseases. Tokarz R, Mishra N, Tagliafierro T, Sameroff S, Caciula A, Chauhan L, Patel J, Sullivan E, Gucwa A, Fallon B, Golightly M, Molins C, Schriefer M, Marques A, Briese T, Lipkin WI. Sci Rep. 2018 Feb 16;8(1):3158.


Tick bites (National Library of Medicine/NIH)

Tickborne diseases (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/NIH)

Tiny but Treacherous: Pics and Flicks Feature Disease-Bearing Ticks (NIAID)

Rafal Tokarz  (Columbia University, New York)

NIH Support: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases