Here are some important places to get info on Lyme disease

deer tick largeMy wife Linda has had two embedded ticks recently, both of which we removed almost immediately. One was a wood tick and one was a deer tick. But one of the spots, three days later, swelled up, so she visited the doctor yesterday and got a mild antibiotic. Lyme disease is a constant threat these days, and to put it mildly, every tick worries us.

The April edition of Maine Woodlands, a publication of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine (SWOAM), contains a great article by Jeanne Siviski titled, “It’s Tick Season. Get to Know Your Adversary.” Jeanne reports that, “The 5- to 14-year old age group, and those over 65, have been most vulnerable” to Lyme disease. Yikes! I’m in one of those groups.

Jeanne notes that deer ticks has a dark brown scutum, or shield, on their back near the head, a telltale sign. “If the deer tick is infected with the Lyme bacteria,” she reports, “it takes 24 to 48 hours to contract Lyme disease. This is why doing daily tick checks is vital.” We do those at our house.

Lyme is now “Maine’s second most common infectious disease,” said Jeanne, who also reports, “Making yards less inviting to deer tick hosts” is a strategy for limiting your vulnerability. Well, we are not about to eliminate our garden, although we use electric fence to keep out the deer – but they’re still in our yard nearly every night. She also notes that “bird feeders can attract mice, a common host for larval deer ticks.”

A few years ago, after catching 38 mice in our house one winter, I hired Modern Pest Management to limit the mice in our home. And they’ve done a good job of that with their boxes of poison. Jeanne also recommends using permethrin on your clothing, and we just starting doing that last week.

deer tick spoonAt many of my talks, I show people the Tick-Off spoon that SWOAM sells on their website. It really makes removal of the tick very easy – and it is critically important to get the entire tick out of your skin.

Maine Medical Association

Siri Bennett, the State Epidemiologist at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, had an excellent column in the last edition of Maine Medicine, the quarterly newsletter of the Maine Medical Association.

“The most common early symptoms of Lyme disease,” wrote Bennett, “is… a bull’s eye rash that appears 3-30 days after transmission (seen in about 60 to 80 percent of cases nationwide). Other early symptoms include fatigue, fever, headaches, arthralgia, and myalgia.”

“Antibiotic therapy is effective for the treatment of Lyme disease,” he said. And I really appreciated the list of resources that Bennett provide with his column. Here they are.

Infectious Diseases Society of America treatment guidelines are available at

Lyme disease case report forms are available on the web at under Resources for physicians.

“Tick-Borne Disease in Maine: A Physicians Reference Manual” is available online at under Tick Resources. Paper copies can be requested through

University of Maine Cooperative Extension Tick ID Lab submission instructions can be found at www.extension.umaine.edue/ipm/tickid/

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While these resources are provided to members of the medical community, they are also available to you. And the lab at the University of Maine, thanks to our vote in favor of a bond issue for them, will have a new lab available sometime next year to test ticks to find out if they are carrying Lyme disease. That’s an important service for all of us.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.