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Don’t Trifle with Tick Fever

Don’t Trifle with Tick Fever
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Q. You have written about ways to remove ticks. My advice to anyone who pulls off a tick is to save it. If you have symptoms, remember to take it to your doctor or the ER.

I forgot to take my saved tick, and the ER doctor refused to consider I might have tick fever. He said mid-March was too early for ticks!

I returned five days later, very ill with multi-organ involvement and remained hospitalized for a week. It took me three months to recuperate.

The follow-up blood test confirmed ehrlichiosis, a tick disease similar to Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which is also spread by the American dog tick. Several days of doxycycline when I first fell ill would have prevented my worsening illness and huge hospital bill.

A. Tick-borne fevers are becoming a major concern in many parts of the US. They include ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, as well as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis and southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI). Some can cause very serious illness.

It might not have made a difference if you had taken the tick with you, but at least you could have proven to the doctor that you had removed a tick. Headache and fever within days or weeks of tick exposure could be symptoms of tick-borne illness.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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