Monday, 2 July 2012

American maladies

Summer always comes with its dramas here, whether it's trees falling on the house or one of the Littleboys having an attack of poison ivy. So far, this summer has been no less deadly; The Doctor has been diagnosed with Lyme Disease.

For those not familiar with Lyme, it is carried by deer ticks and initially causes a rash, a flu-like illness and fatigue. For those left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems, but luckily in his case it has been caught early and the treatment, which hopefully cures it, is a three week course of antibiotics. It is common in the northeastern US and apparently, what with the mild winter, there are more ticks than usual this year.

We think he was bitten by the tick on Memorial Day weekend, when we went 'out East', as they say around here - not, in fact, Japan or outer Mongolia but the Eastern End of Long Island. We did some hiking in a state park where there were deer, and that is almost certainly where the tick was. This was followed by a rash we initially thought was an allergic reaction to mosquito bites, and he has felt tired and lethargic ever since.

Having started the antibiotics, he's starting to feel better, but it's a reminder of how deadly summer can be in America. Suddenly I can see our planned summer holiday -  a week's camping in rural New Hampshire in August - turning into a paranoid week of reapplying insect repellent and forcing the kids to wear long trousers.  But, when I'm not slathering my children in suncream and mosquito spray, making sure they don't walk in anything green when we're somewhere rural, and checking the weather report for tornado warnings - summer's quite fun. And at least we can say that, healthwise, we've had the full-on North American summer experience.


16 comments:

Expat mum said...

Ridiculous isn't it. We get bitten alive in the summer and since I actually know someone with persistent West Nile disease, I tend to be a little paranoid.
And I also didn't know that there was a thing called Poison Oak which can be even worse than Poison Ivy, and I don't think I could recognise either plant.
Makes stinging nettles look like, well, a picnic!

Potty Mummy said...

Hope he gets well soon. Was considering getting the family vaccinated against TBE recently, but decided not to once I learned that you need a course of 3 vaccinations and even then it's only 60% effective. Still, maybe worth considering, hearing your story!

Elsie Button said...

Cripes, glad it was caught early and that he is on the mend xx

Family Affairs said...

Blimey - glad it got caught early - you can get that round my parts (well not my actual parts obviously) but in the Royal parks in London - deer world. Have to be careful. Lx

AliBlahBlah said...

We don't have Poison Ivy or (thankfully) Lyme Disease here in CA , but we do have Poison Oak. Friends of ours here were house swapping with a family from Kent -when they returned to their house they found the Kent family had decorated their mantelpiece with colorful fall foliage, as they do with hops in Kent. Unfortunately for the British family they'd chosen to decorate with poison oak! That would have been a miserable plane journey home!

Iota said...

I had a tick a few weeks ago - horrible thing. So I've been keeping a watch on myself for symptoms of Lyme disease, but how would I know whether I was tired and lethargic because of jetlag, or because of Lyme's? Just one of life's conundrums.

Iota said...

It does make the English countryside seem very gentle, when you come up against some of these dangers in America.

Nota Bene said...

Poor fellow...send him my best. I know that (in poor taste) there's a Limy joke just waiting to burst out...

Circles in the Sand said...

My very best to The Doctor - get well soon! xx

nappy valley girl said...

Iota - if you still feel tired in a week, and you have any kind of fever or rash, see a doctor! But I'm not surprised you're exhausted, moving countries.

Melissa said...

I had no idea that that was what Lyme disease was(not very with it medically!) Sounds nasty. It reminds me of how US summers are VERY full on in so many ways. Unlike say the Great British summer which is just wet

Almost American said...

Glad you seem to have caught it early - it's a nasty thing! There are most definitely ticks in our backyard, so I'm surprised no one in our household has come down with Lyme disease yet. West Nile is probably an even bigger threat the way the boy and I get bitten to death every time we step outside :-(

Muddling Along said...

Hope he recovers quickly

Another reminder that the UK is actually (even with the risk of trench foot in the summer) a very benign place to be

Conuly said...

Don't forget poison sumac, which is the third out of four common plants to contain urushiol (the stuff that makes you itchy). The last, of course, is cashews, which is why you can't really get them raw.

At any rate, it's easy enough to identify three out of the four by the fact that they all have leaves-of-three, let-them-be. Just avoid anything with leaves grouped in threes that's not a. clover or b. wood sorrel and you'll be fine. A bit paranoid, but fine.

Can't help you with the ticks, though. *hugs*

PantsWithNames said...

Ticks are the most repellent creatures on earth, with the possible exception of slugs. But Jess got 'tick disease' when we were in Bosnia (not the same as Lyme's!) and was really quite poorly for a while, but the antibiotics kicked it into touch. Hope the Dr is feeling better soon.

About Last Weekend said...

I don't think we get that so much here in Norcal, sounds awful, your poor husband. And poison ivy is a nightmare