I'm pretty sure my dog has Lyme Disease.
He keeps looking at me with those big brown eyes, and he whimpers when he moves, and wants me to make it better. And there isn't a hell of a lot I can do about it.
I'm a wreck.
Show me a person with busted up body parts, and I'm fine.
But my dog?
MUCH harder to deal with. At least an order of magnitude harder.
I've spent the day researching and talking to the vet (why do these things always happen on a weekend?!?) and making plans. And thinking about what the likelihood is that one of the humans in the family might get Lyme Disease, or that we might have a call that is related to Lyme.
You'd think the chances aren't very high that we'd get a call for a patient complaining of Lyme Disease, but actually, I already have. It was obvious, too. Tick head still embedded, angry red swelling, red ring like a bullseye.
He had noticed the tick, and tried to pull it out, didn't think much of not being able to get the whole thing, and left it that way for a couple of days. He hadn't heard of Lyme Disease, and had no idea that a tick bite could lead to anything.
Most people I know have at least a little knowledge of the disease. They know they need to check for ticks (we live someplace that they are common) and that they need to remove them as soon as possible. But "most people I know" is not the same group as "the general population," and it may be that this isn't as common knowledge as it should be.
So as a little PSA, I thought I'd include some links to basic Lyme Disease information.
First, not all ticks cause the disease, because not all ticks are infected with it. Trouble is, you can't tell by looking at the tick, so it's a good idea to treat all ticks as potentially infected. That means pulling them out. Preferably in one piece.
When I was a kid, people would touch a tick with a match head or the end of a lit cigarette, the theory being that it would make them pull back out on their own. And what, turn around to smack you for burning their butt with yours? Not so much. Turns out, that doesn't work all that well. Neither does "suffocating" them with kerosene, vaseline, or rubbing alcohol.
There are some great tools on the market that make pulling a tick simple, quick, and effective. The one we use is the Pro Tick Remedy. There are others, but this is the one I've used the most, so it's the one I can recommend. The important thing is to get one, whichever type you use.
Some places for information on Lyme Disease itself:
CDC Lyme Disease Page
Mayo Clinic Lyme Disease Information
PubMed Health Lyme Disease Information
And don't forget to check yourself- and your friends- for ticks.