Afraid To Go In The Woods: Lyme Disease and Anaplasmosis

Afraid to go in the woods: Lyme disease and anaplasmosis by Terry Ryan

As I prepare for my trip up to New York for the rest of the summer, I am happy to go back to familiar sites and good friends, but I am not thrilled to be in the tick area. This year, because of perfect weather conditions for ticks, they are plentiful..

On Facebook, I have read a couple of posts from people who have been diagnosed with Lyme disease and the recovery sounds like a long, dragged out affair. The tiny little Lyme tick can infect a human by one bite; usually leaving behind a bulls-eyed rash, but not always. They symptoms can develop days or weeks later as aches and pains, fatigued, headache, and fever just to name a few irritating ones.

Treatment is a course of antibiotics, but if not caught early enough, the antibiotics can be of little effect as the disease travels to the brain causing permanent neurological symptoms.

So people feel better with treatment for a while, then the symptoms return and leave, return and leave. Ugh! Years of suffering.

After a recent phone call to a friend in upstate New York, I found out there is a new tick-transmitted disease to worry about: anaplasmosis. Her husband found two red bite marks after an afternoon of golf. One was on his back and the other on his stomach. They were red and itchy and he thought it was spider bites because they were not presenting the bulls-eyed rash. His wife applied cortisone cream for the itching.

Anaplasmosis: Use of antibiotics other than doxycycline or other tetracyclines has been associated with a higher risk of fatal outcome for some rickettsial infections. Doxycycline is most effective at preventing severe complications from developing if it is started early in the course of disease. Therefore, treatment must be based on clinical suspicion alone and should always begin before laboratory results return.


A few days later, her husband developed a fever and became so weak that he collapsed in the shower. His family took him to the emergency room where an alert M.D. suspected anaplasmosis and prescribed docxcyline even before the blood tests came back. (It proved positive for anaplasmosis a day later.)

After a couple of weeks on doxycyline, he started to feel better but he is still dealing with some of the symptoms.

I have many friends up north that have been diagnosed with Lyme disease. Most were healthy nature lovers, hikers and gardeners. People who prefer shopping in malls versus trekking through the beautiful Adirondack woods seem to have avoided the ticks.


Human anaplasmosis (HA), formerly known human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE), is a bacterial disease transmitted to humans by Ixodes scapularis (blacklegged tick or deer tick), the same tick that transmits Lyme disease. The etiologic agent of HA is Anaplasma phagocytophilum, a rickettsial bacterium.

Ticks love warm, moist weather and tall grasses. They hitch rides as you pass through the grass and travel up to preferred warm areas on your body, like your upper body and ears. A Lyme tick has to bite and hang on for more than 24 hours to properly infect its host. Friends tell me they usually find them by soaping up in the shower and feel a little bump on their skin. Ticks are so tiny that a family member is called in to inspect with a magnifying glass and tick removal is done with tweezers. Another friend recently pulled a tick off her buttock, however the head was too embedded that she had to have her doctor removed the rest. The doctor did tell her that anaplasmosis is of big concern this summer.

Doctors now worry about anaplasmosis more than Lyme. Lyme is chronic, debilitating disease but usually not deadly, while anaplasmosis, the new kid on the block, can kill you in a matter of weeks.

In preparation for my trip, I started researching HOW TO PREVENT LYME DISEASE, in the form of natural and downright chemical assault. Here’s what I found:

Repel Ticks on Skin and Clothing

  • Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours.(Please click the highlighted letters to view the products.)
  • Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings.

Find and Remove Ticks from Your Body

  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within 2 hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
  • Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
  • Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs.
  • Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors.
    • If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed.
    • If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks effectively. If the clothes cannot be washed in hot water, tumble dry on low heat for 90 minutes or high heat for 60 minutes. The clothes should be warm and completely dry.

For pets, Advantix is what I use for my two small dogs. I apply the gel to the back of the neck and it protects against fleas and ticks. Also, there have been good reviews on the Serento collar. I was thinking about using both on  my dogs but I have been advised by the veterinarian not to do that. And using the Serento collar temporarily, putting on my dogs prior to the walk and then taking it off after the walk, does not work because it takes time for the Serento collar chemicals to infiltrate the dogs body. There are, of course, versions for cats.

Even with using the above chemicals, you still have to use a flea comb and carefully examine your pets each time you come inside. Ugh!

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There are treatments for your yard to control ticks: keeping brush down, building a stone perimeter around your yard so ticks will be less likely to venture unto your grass. And there are chemical treatments that a homeowner can apply directly to their lawn, however, there are questions on how long do they work and do you want your children playing on a chemical soaked lawn?

Here are some products if you want to treat your lawn for ticks:

Where did all the BAD ticks come from?

If you wondering why you were once able to run wild and free through grassy fields and never have to worry about being bitten and poisoned by a tick, that’s a good question. Never as a child did my mother have to examine my body every time I came in from playing in the park next door. Thank GOD!

Is it a governmental scientific experiment that went wrong?! There is an island off the tip of Long Island, Plum Island, that is a animal disease lab and some people say that is where the Lyme tick originated.

In 1954 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) established the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC). The Center conducts research on animal pathogens to protect farmers, ranchers, and the national food supply. Because of the nature of the research, access to the Island and the research facility is restricted.

Conspiracy theorists theorize that the US government was experimenting with making infectious ticks to create dirty bombs for biological warfare. Biological warfare has been used for centuries. White settlers gave native Americans blankets infected with the small pox disease thereby wiping out entire tribes.

Japan and Biological Warfare

Unit 731 was specifically created by the Japanese military in Harbin which was then located in Japanese-occupied Manchukuo for researching biological and chemical warfare which they carried out human experimentation on men, women, children, and infants, regardless of whether they were captives or warfare casualties. During the Second Sino-Japanese War and later World War II, the Japanese had encased bubonic plaguecholerasmallpoxbotulismanthrax, and other diseases into bombs where they were routinely dropped on Chinese combatants and non-combatants. According to the 2002 International Symposium on the Crimes of Bacteriological Warfare, the number of people killed by the Imperial Japanese Army germ warfare and human experiments is around 580,000.[1] According to other sources, “tens of thousands, and perhaps as many as 400,000 Chinese died of bubonic plaguecholeraanthrax and other diseases” from the use of biological warfare.[2]

During the first few months at war with the United States following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan also had previously planned to use biological weapons against Americans. During the Battle of Bataan in March 1942, the Japanese considered releasing 200 pounds of plague-carrying fleas—about 150 million insects—in each of ten separate attacks. However, the surrender of American forces rendered the plan unnecessary. In early July 1944 during the Battle of Saipan, when the war was going against Japan, plague-infested fleas were again intended to be used against American combatants. However, the Japanese submarine carrying the fleas was sunk by the American submarine Swordfish off Chichi Jima.

Back to Plum Island…

The theory is, ticks were infected with bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi at the lab, then the ticks escaped and guess where they first showed up? Right across the bay in Lyme, Connecticut. Now they are rapidly spreading across the US and the Northeast is a hot spot.

How many people are infected with Lyme Disease?

300,000 people per year!


If you are interested in learning more about Plum Island’s mysterious operations, check out the book LAB 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government’s Secret Germ Laboratory.


Powassan is a rare tick-borne disease caused by a virus. It can cause swelling in the brain (doctors call this encephalitis) and in the membranes around the brain and spinal cord (you may hear this called meningitis).

Though rarer than Lyme disease it is spreading and it is deadly.


Stay out of areas where ticks thrive.
If you do hike or garden, then use a spray that contains DEET.
Take a shower after being outside in 2 hours and check for ticks.
If you suspect a tick has bitten you, go to your doctor.

Stay safe!

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