I'm telling this story only because it may help someone in the future. It was exactly three weeks ago today that Marie and I got into the "seed ticks." The story is still not over, but I may have turned a corner.
For reference, we got into these "seed ticks" exactly three weeks ago. I'll retell the story, as I told it on Facebook, so if you recall parts of it, just skip those. At the very end of our hike that day we had to walk through a grassy area to get to the car. Immediately after getting in the car my legs began to burn. I said to Marie, "See these little brown dots? They burn. I can flick them off."
Since we were hiking in a part of the country I'm not totally familiar with, I assumed I'd found some new kind of plant material with an irritating seed. I proceeded to brush the little light tan dots off my legs and onto the floor of the car. The spots continued to burn. Later, back at the campground, Marie found she had some too, but hers weren't bothering her at all at that point. We still had some on us, even after showering. Later that evening, I was beginning to think something was fishy, as the burning was creeping higher than the edges of my shorts. I pulled one of the dots off my tummy, and with a reading magnifier, I could tell it was moving, but not any details. We got my botany magnifier which is 30X power. That's when we could tell these were ticks. But ticks with only six legs, probably dog ticks. So we went hunting for information on line. The first stage after egg is a larval tick, sometimes called a "seed tick," and they only have six legs. OK, now we knew what we were dealing with, but we were not happy.
I kept a few stuck on tape. I can't get any better picture of this, but you can see that the dot is less than a millimeter long.
We'd already showered, but we went back to the showers, stripped and searched each other. We scraped ticks off with a knife, and also with a kitchen scrubby. We showered again. I could easily tell where the ticks were by the burning. Marie still wasn't feeling anything.
We had to buy tick pesticide spray and treat Marie's car, and the inside of the trailer. We also washed all the clothes and bedding and fabrics they had touched. We must have been successful, because we did not pick up any new ticks from any of these secondary sources. Just forhe the record, we bought Hot Shot Tick and Lice Spray. It actually didn't smell bad, and the odor dissipated quickly.
So, here's the thing. I can not seem to find the same web site again, but I have found some others (credible ones) that say the risk of acquiring a disease from a larval tick is very small, because they have not yet had a blood meal. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and maybe Babesia can be transmitted from mother ticks to the eggs. But none of these were attached to us for 24 hours. Most, not even 12. And those diseases are not prevalent in Kentucky.
But apparently some people react more severely to the bites and the neurotoxin the ticks inject. Let's be clear. I thought I had hundreds of bites. But then I counted one patch on my thigh, and there were 100 just there. I think we can safely say I had at least a thousand. This is my leg three days after the exposure. Maybe you can't really tell, but it's pretty much raw with adjacent bites.
We got a prescription for prednisone, and also were taking Benedryl. I've never been able to take much Benedryl, but I kept pushing the limit of what I thought I could take because the burning and itching was beyond endurance. We also used cortisone cream right on the skin. By the third day, Marie was itching too.
I've definitely not felt well off and on, and I think it's from this allergic reaction to so many bites. Please don't start diagnosing from afar. I've had no fever, no symptoms of any of the nasty diseases, just a general malaise that is a typical for me "reaction" to something that my immune system isn't happy about.
We were on Prednisone for over a week and then kept up the Benedryl for a few more days. I finally cut it out because I wasn't sure if I was reacting to it or the tick bites.
Near the end of our time together, we also tried benzocaine (sold as Solarcaine and Lanacaine) spray. Well! That worked for a few hours on me while the "freezing" effect was active, but when it began to wear off, I ran to the shower and scrubbed like crazy. My reaction to that was not good. It burned like a chemical burn. I couldn't stand that at all.
Although I absolutely believe I'm in no danger of contracting any of the nasty things ticks can carry, my reaction to the bites themselves has been pretty spectacular. Because they inject an anticoagulant as well, after a few days pinpoint bruises began appearing around the bites on the flabbier areas of my skin- like my thighs and upper arms. I looked like I was taking blood thinners. Well, I sort of was!
Sorry to do this to you again, but here is a thigh this morning, THREE weeks later. If I scratch, and get the histamines all aroused, the bite sites still jump right up and get rashy. That said, a couple of days ago, things calmed down from burning to only itching. I can pretty much stand that. And, yes, I've been doing some scratching. You'd have to anesthetize me to prevent all of that. Luckily, I don't get infections easily.
I am covered in bumps from my feet to my neck. But they seem to be finally drying out, and I can ignore them most of the time now.
I can only compare this to chiggers, which I've experienced twice, but the itching only lasted about 3 days for that. I don't wish this on anyone. It's been pretty awful.
That said, I did even less today than yesterday. No apologies. Maybe tomorrow I'll get my act together.
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