Deer tick warning: my Brownie on the job

McZENA MUSE - Louise Swartzwalder

SUBURBAN MCZENA — I just found out the things I thought I had left behind when leaving teeming Washington have an odd way of following you.

Ever the seeker, wanderer, I happily grew things for farmers’ markets when in Washington. This, in addition to running my business.

There, for the first time, I was introduced to deer ticks.

For an Ohio farm girl, this is an odd situation.

I grew up in the country, surrounded by wooded areas, and but never once made the acquaintance with one of those little deer tick devils. I never had seen a deer tick until chatting with a guy whose place was adjacent to my farm plot in Maryland.

This guy comes up, holds out his fingers and points to this small, rascally looking bug.

Deer tick, meet Louise.

In doing my work outside, I carefully covered myself up. Long pants, socks pulled up around my pants, long sleeve shirts and a hat.

This did nothing to curb the ticks.

The area I farmed was surrounded by trees, and infested with deer. They loved to munch on the flowers and vegetables I was growing.

Twice, after a long day’s work, husband John found deer ticks beautifully embedded in me. He carefully helped me get them out.

Deer ticks are frightening. We had some friends, and the wife had gotten Lyme disease. This is a disabling disease, which is spread by deer ticks who get transmit the illness by feasting on deer, other wildlife.

Just three days ago I began work outside. First I looked for mushrooms (no luck). Then it was clearing weeds, brush and unwanted things around my house.

The work felt great. I slept really well afterward.

Wednesday morning I found a little tick, which had hidden itself in my clothing and was now affixed to my waist.

I had read about options in removing them. One is to hold a lighted match to their rear end. They will wriggle out of the hole they’ve created.

I didn’t like that option, because the tick had gotten into me at an odd location. So I pulled it out.

This act is of course imperfect. You may think you’ve gotten the little thing, but because ticks are tricky, they can leave body parts behind.

I swabbed the wound with alcohol, called my doctor.

They said, come on in.

On the way to the doctor’s office I saw numerous signs. They say Ohio.tick. com


My doctor, a nice man, asked if I knew about timing on tick bites, and the possible things to look for. A rash, is one.

He tried to pluck the pincer parts out. No luck.

On to scalpels. It took two.

He said he had never had such a time in extracting tick parts.

This, my lucky day.

As a reward for my diligence and patience in watching his labors, I now get to take an antibiotic.

At the pharmacy, they said they had never heard of me, of course. This, after they sent me a text saying my prescription was ready.

Did the tick population sabotage all this?

The Richland County Health Department has carefully put out a notice warning people about deer ticks.

The department says they are a health concern because they can transmit Lyme disease. There were 160 cases of Lyme disease last year, a four-fold increase in four years.

Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a skin rash called a “bull’s eye” rash. It can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics.

If not treated, it spreads to the joints, heart and nervous system and can cause life long health complications.

Health officials want people to know they should also check their dogs and cats that go outside for ticks.

In Maryland, I found a tick on my beautiful brown dog, Brownie. It was removed.

Brownie, a Lab and Golden Retriever mix, isn’t afraid of many challenges outside. He just wants to roam.

He’s a very good sniffer.

Perhaps I could train him to sniff out the hidden domiciles of deer tick devils.


Louise Swartzwalder