We would like to use this section to educate you on the context of the tick population and the risks, symptoms, and stories of people dealing with the most infamous vector that they carry: Lyme disease.
I would like to start off this section with the well-written article for the general reader that appeared in Edible East End last year (2017), "What We Talk About When We Talk About Lyme Disease on Long Island" by Kelly Ann Smith.
"What We Talk About When We Talk About Lyme Disease on Long Island" by Kelly Ann Smith
Illustration by Layla Ehsan
An Excerpt from the Article:
LJ pulled a tick from under her arm, at the bra line, eight years ago. The next day, she had a horrible “flu,” a slight fever and headache. “I felt every organ in my body shift when I rolled over in bed,” she said.
A week later, a bullseye rash, called an “erythema migrans” (EM) appeared, a classic sign of Lyme disease. LJ went to a walk-in clinic and was prescribed two weeks of doxycycline.
“At the end of the day I couldn’t talk,” she said. “The words were in my head but I couldn’t get them from my brain out of my mouth.” The muscles on the left side of her face weakened, while the right side tingled. She could not walk a straight line but got herself to the emergency room. A stroke code was called.
An MRI revealed not a stroke but eight lesions on her brain. A lumbar puncture found “nondescript proteins” in her spinal fluid. Results for Lyme disease were negative. “I showed the doctor the ring on my side,” she said. “It was bright as day.”
“Nope,” the neurologist told her. “The two have nothing to do with each other. Lyme doesn’t do this.”
She was pulled off antibiotics and diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) that day. She left the hospital after three days and spent the next three months in bed. “I was unable to lift my head off the pillow,” she said. “I had two small children and my husband was getting pissed.”
Her husband, a working partner in three East End restaurants, was bit by a tick that summer. He was not treated. After a flu shot that fall, he couldn’t walk. “It was similar to what I had, walking into walls, but worse,” she said. “His whole body shook, his liver and kidneys were failing.”