Date: 5/11/19 8:56 am
From: Jim Felley <jdfelley...>
Subject: [MDBirding] Re: Be careful - ticks
On Friday, May 10, 2019 at 5:58:04 PM UTC-4, Cheryl Hogue wrote:
> Patricia, this is why I now carry a lint roller with tear-off sticky sheets in my birding kit. I'm using it -- and asking passengers to use it -- before getting in the car and untucking my pants legs from my permethrin-treated socks.
> Cheryl Hogue
> Silver Spring

I am a very active birder in the DC area, but I only bird from maintained paths, ensuring the smallest risk of a tick bite. Here is why.

Ten years ago Lyme disease sent me to the hospital with symptoms of a stroke. A few weeks earlier I developed a red upraised welt on the back of my thigh. My doctor took blood to send away to test for Lyme and prescribed Doxycycline, the standard treatment for Lyme, as a precaution. Even with the medication, I went through periods of fever and weakness. Less than a week later, I could not remember words and began speaking incoherently.

My wife took me to the hospital and told the doctors that I was being treated for Lyme. The doctors did not think that Lyme could progress to the brain that quickly. They began treatment with IV antibiotics while ruling out other possibilities. After a few days of IV treatment, my cognitive abilities began to improve. I went home with a PICC line for a daily IV dose of rocephin for many weeks. I steadily regained my mental function and stamina, but even months later I had periods of disorientation that I attributed to Lyme.

There never was an explanation of how Lyme went to my brain so quickly. My suspicion is that I had already contracted Lyme through my many travels through the woods and fields of Montgomery County. I had picked off many ticks over the years.

I fear that a further infection with Lyme might precipitate the whole sequence again. So now I go out of my way to avoid any area where ticks might climb on me. I only bird on maintained trails, sidewalks or bike trials. I don't even walk on mowed grass trails or trails with piles of leaves!

Luckily for me, the DC area is a perfect place for such birding. The towpath, Rock Creek trail, Huntley Meadows, the Mall, are all areas accessible to me under these requirements. Over the years, I think that I have missed on average 10 birds for my year list. I feel that that is a small price to pay for my health and peace of mind.


Jim Felley
Gaithersburg, MD

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