April 17, 2011

When A Tick Was Sucking My Blood



Have you ever run through tall grass only to have a blood feeding parasite attach itself to your skin?  You don’t realize it because it inserts its chelicerae (cutting mandibles) and hypostome (feeding tube) into the skin with little notice. The feeding tube is covered with recurved teeth so the bastard puts a vice grip on your flesh.

I had the pleasure of this experience today!  I only found the tick while I was taking a very rare post-run shower.  I was scrubbing my legs (again a rare occurance) and there it was on my hand!  I flung the mandible laden creature to the shower floor.  I watched it scurry aimlessly in a pool of shower borne suds.  Then I quickly captured it in a plastic container I normally use for Succeed tabs.

I’ve been warned about ticks for years. Stay out of the grass or else! Well today Rob M and Bino joined me for a run through some pretty tall grass. Nearly 30 miles of it.  At one point when we were descending Rattlesnake Ridge in El Moro the trail was not even visible for over a mile.  As we ran through this narrow, rock ridden single track, unable to see the ground beneath our soles, we were like banshees descending into the depths of an arachnid hell.  Then Bino moaned.  After two ankle rolls under this grass covered minefield he’d had enough. But we continued down, into the breach.

The biggest fear of a tick isn’t the blood it sucks from your veins.  Or the teeth it lodges into your flesh. The biggest fear of a tick is the disease it injects into your body.  Ten human infections are known to come from ticks. Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Babesiosis.  Tularemia.  Lymes disease.  Like the menu?  You better, ‘cause it’s made to order for exploring runners.

If there is any silver in this lining it isn’t the thread of disease these critters spread, and it isn’t the misery they sling at us outdoorsmen.  It’s that the disease can be detected and treated.  My biggest fear of ticks is Lymes disease. This debilitating, life altering disease is the most common tick borne disease in the northern hemesphere.

According to Wiki, early symptoms “may include fever, headache, fatigue, depression and a characteristic circular skin rash called erythema migrans. If untreated, later symptoms may involve the joints, heart, and central nervous system. In most cases, the infection and its symptoms are eliminated by antibiotics, especially if the illness is treated early.  Delayed or inadequate treatment can lead to the more serious symptoms, which can be disabling and difficult to treat”.

Turns out that Lymes disease is very rare in California and extremely rare in Southern California. The current rate of Lymes disease in Southern California is .02%, or one in 5000.  But like the politicians say, there are lies, damn lies and statistics.  So what does this all mean?  I’m testing that damn tick!

Clogen Laboratories offers DNA testing of ticks to determine if you have a Lymes disease tainted blood sucker, or just a blood sucker.  Even though my odds are good I’ve got “just a blood sucker”, I’ve decided to send the parasite in for a DNA analysis.

Stay tuned....







11 comments:

Suza said...

What a great post - it's always good to be aware of things that can hurt you, and it never even occured to me that one could pick up ticks from running!

I'll look up the stats for Canada now!

Good thing you bagged that sucker to test it. Let us know how it goes.

Rachel said...

when i was little, after going to the river, my mom founda tick on my head while braiding my hair! i agree that my biggest fear with them is the potential for disease. hopefully yours is harmless!

Stacey (aka Ultraprincess) said...

Thank goodness the tick still wasn't attached. Most people try and pull the suckers off, and end up with half a tick lodged in their body part!!!

Been fortunate enough that my only experience was with my dog..... it was a disease free tick... Thank goodness.

Fingers crossed for you.

it's all about pace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
it's all about pace said...

I'm not going to ask about the rare bathing.... :-) glad you found it quickly

EricG said...

Ticks and Lymes common here in the NE. I am struggling for comment on the rare shower too. Peace E

steroids said...

I have several dogs and even though treated with frontline regularly we find ticks on them every once in a while sometimes in rooms the dogs are never allowed in.

Will said...

thanks everyone, for the comments...for inquiring minds, I usually have a policy not to shower the day of a race or long run. If I layer up enough no one notices. To much effort following a big effort. I'm a creature of habit!

Will said...

Received report back today from Clongen Labs....all three tests came back negative....whew!

Stacey (aka Ultraprincess) said...

Phew!

shannon said...

We already have both deer and wood ticks canvassing the landscape for a host. I run trails fairly often in the summer and always spray my ankles and socks with repellant. I too have read stories about Lyme's disease; fortunately there is an effective treatment if caught early. Happy tick-free running! :)