The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1128: What You Need to Know About Tick-Borne Diseases

Tick-borne diseases now cover a wider range than they once did. How can you keep from getting infected, and what should you do if you are?
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What You Need to Know About Tick-Borne Diseases

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If you’ve spent time out in the woods this summer, or if you hope to hike or bike outside, you need to know about ticks. Ticks are not just icky; they can also carry dangerous diseases. In fact, tick-borne diseases are increasing as ticks increase their range.

Tick-Borne Diseases:

Not all tick bites lead to infection, but numerous tick species can carry pathogens. The lone star ticks can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever, while blacklegged ticks and western blacklegged ticks harbor Lyme disease. Diseases like anaplasmosis, babesiosis and ehrlichiosis may be less recognizable, but they can also cause health problems.

What to Do About Ticks:

Are there ways to minimize your chance of being bitten by a tick? (Clothing treated with permethrin, such as that from Insect Shield or BugsAway is very helpful. We especially like the gaiters.)

What should you do if you find a tick has latched on? Find out how to remove a tick properly and how to recognize the symptoms of tick-borne diseases. Which treatments are effective?

We’ll also discuss diseases that may be transmitted by mosquitoes, biting flies and fleas. What can you do to protect yourself?

Call Us:

Dr. David Weber will answer your questions about infections transmitted by ticks and other biters. Join the conversation by calling 888-472-3366 on Saturday, July 14, 2018, from 7 to 8 am EDT or email

Learn More:

Listeners had some suggestions for more information about ticks.

Books:  Cure Unknown, by Pamela Weintraub

Coping with Lyme Disease, by Denise Lang


Eliza F. wrote:

“One resource I’ve found that other listeners might appreciate is, run by the University of Rhode Island.  There’s lots of good information there, including a guide to identifying ticks.  Also, at, you can find out how to send a tick that has bitten you to the U Mass Laboratory of Medical Zoology.  They will do a DNA analysis to see if your tick was carrying any diseases.  It costs $50 (or more, depending on how many diseases you test for).”

This Week’s Guest:

David Weber, MD, MPH, is Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at the UNC School of Medicine. Dr. Weber is also Professor of Epidemiology at the Gillings School of Global Public Health and Medical Director of UNC Hospitals’ Departments of Hospital Epidemiology and Occupational Health Service. In addition, he is Associate Chief Medical Officer at UNC Health Care. UNC is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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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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Tick borne illnesses (as zoonoses) have been with us AND OUR ancestors for a long time. We need to understand the pathophysiology of tick borne illnesses and all other intracellular illnesses in order to medically / self / community manage:

Organism (can be a tick borne illness, influenza virus (or multiple other viruses), syphillis, ebola, zika organism ENTERS the inside of the Cell

Inside the cell the invader acts to subsume the control of Nuclear Factor kappa Beta (NF-kB) to its own reproduction ends. Upregulation of NF-kB results in “oxidative stress” that, in turn, can cause mitocondrial, microvascular & neuronal dysregulation creating symptoms such as pain, arthralgia (joint pain), radicuoneuritis (sharp pain that radiates), myalgia (muscle aches), anergia (low energy state and extreme fatigue), cognition impairment (concentration / focus loss), emotionality (labile emotional state) and even psychosis (including hallucinations, delusions).

In other words these critters can cause A to Z symptoms that are very bothersome. In the case of these “symptoms” can come before much more severe developmental and atrophic manifestations in the fetus and in the case of Ebola massive hemorrhage due to leaks of blood outside of blood vessels.

Lyme disease can involve a start of aspects of the above symptoms that can persist because the products of NF-kB activation (pro-inflammatory interleukins, cytokines, Tumor necrosis factor alpha…..etc) can themselves activate NF-kB and downregulate Nrf2 nuclear factor.

Lyme disease thus can have bothersome symptoms on initiation of infection, propagation of infection and even AFTER termination of the infection in terms of the body NO LONGER having A NY organisms remaining in the body.

HOWEVER, as is well known (but not to “Chronic Lyme Disease Doctors” who advocate massive and very expensive IV antibiotic therapy) to anybody who has treated “Chronic Lyme Disease,” there is ongoing NF-kB activation (through a positive negative feedback loop) EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE NO LYME CRITTERS REMAINING IN THE BODY.

With NF-kB activation there can also be intracellular thiamine depletion and resulting endothelial dysfunction and microvascular dysregulation as well as partial conversion of energy making from mitochodria to much more fraught with oxidative stress glycolytic pathways.

In other words there is depletion of intracellular thiamine pyrophosphate that decreases intracellular Transketolase enzyme production and that, in turn, decreases the shunting of glucose metabolites into productive pentose shunt pathways versus mal-productive glycolytic pathways where there is increase in insulin resistance and very significant increase in microvascular side effects.

Hypothesis: At the onset of a zoonosis infection, influenza infection, malaria infection, Zika virus infection…..etc there should be consideration of the administration of anti-NF-kB activation agents as Pycnogenol, pro-Nrf2 activation agents such as Sulforaphane (a brocolli sprout extract therapeutic agent), AND Benfotiamine + Mg++ to support as cofactors optimal intracellular thiamine pyrophosphate & Transketolase activity.

Hypothesis: Attending to the above that is ALL in the SELF-CARE, FAMILY-CARE, COMMUNITY-CARE realm rather than under the control of a doctor could produce an ENORMOUSLY COST-EFFECTIVE OUTCOME for overally global health

Dr. Weber gives good hints on how to prevent tick’s from getting on you in the first place, but I do question the combination of sunscreen and DEET-type insecticides.

Previous speakers on the show have warned about that setting up a toxic mix. Instead, how about some of the eucalyptus oil products, such as amber Listerine or any other essential oil mix with those ingredients.

Like many doctors, even Dr. Weber seems very hesitant and measured about his responses, which creates a lot of frustration for those of us who need strong advocates in the medical community. Rather than downplaying the concerns of tick infection and the very possible long term effects, it should be simply and firmly stated that Lyme and other tick borne infections are EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES and that this means, 1.)There is not enough research, 2.) Testing results are not definitive, and 3.) Treatment results vary.

We need doctors to advocate loudly for patients. Not hedge and minimize the need for immediate attention, long-term monitoring, funding for research, and better preventive measures besides spraying ourselves with insecticides.

In closing however, I do want to express my thanks for this podcast because anything that increases public awareness can absolutely change lives. I know because I have lived with chronic pain and fatigue from a tick borne infection since 2004.

I just read a study that opossums can control ticks because they consume them while grooming – potentially as many as 5,000 per year. So those of us in rural areas shoul not discourage possums in the area!

Should I be concerned with the dogs that I have regularly seen in stores ?

I see dogs on lengthy leases, appearing to just be companion dogs.

I had a blood test over a year ago that tested positive for lyme and erhlicia. How do I know if it is an active infection? Is there any immunity built up after an infection. I have an ongoing nerve and muscle weakness that has not been able to be diagnosed, and am not sure what to do next.

Get yourself to a specialist. This may mean you have a long-term chronic condition.

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