Sunday, July 16, 2006

Lyme and Birding

I have been following with some concern a thread on MDOsprey about Lyme Disease. It began last weekend when one birder announced she had contracted Lyme Disease. Then each day throughout the week produced more postings from other birders with stories from bouts with the disease. (One particularly bad case is here.) Lyme Disease is caused by a spirochete bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted to humans via deer ticks that have been attached for over 36 hours.

I have been lucky in not catching this so far. For the most part I stay out of tall grass and thick undergrowth, so I do not get many tick bites. Still, I could probably stand to be more careful about using repellent and checking for deer ticks. The deer tick nymphs are especially difficult to spot since they are about the size of poppy seeds.

Anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors, especially in the northeast and midwest, needs to know the symptoms for Lyme Disease; see the American Lyme Disease Foundation for more on the condition. Watch for the distinctive bull's-eye rash and get treatment right away. A course of antibiotics early can prevent many problems down the road.