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lyme disease is not an issue in montana  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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It has been brought up twice in the last week.

From the american lyme disease foundation, here is a map:



So I think lyme disease is one thing you don't really have to worry about here.

I did have two ticks on me this week. But I brushed them both off of me before they had a chance to dig in. In fact (knock on wood) I have never had a tick dig into me - I've always just brushed them off (and then used the pliers on my leatherman to smash them).

Not to be confused with The Tick:

 
Su Ba
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When we lived in NJ, we did full body tick searches twice a day, carefully checked creases especially behind the knee. By being diligent, hubby and I were among the few people in our neighborhood who didn't get Lyme disease, nor any of the other tickbourne diseases. We also used tick control on all our animals in order to keep down any ticks that might get into the house. Free range chickens and guinea hens seemed to help keep the ticks down outdoors, as compared to our neighbors who didn't have free range birds.
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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A while back I saw a suggestion for a "chicken moat" - basically a long narrow fenced chicken run encircling the property that the chickens have free range access to. Any tick tries to cross and gets eaten.

Not a bad idea around recreational spaces perhaps? Or encircling zone 1?
 
Bradley Springer
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I'm near ground zero. I like the chicken moat idea, but I currently cannot own chickens due to city laws. So while I work on changing that, does anyone know what type of wild bird(s) to attract to help keep the ticks down?

I know we all hate lawn mowers, but what about a strip of lawn that circles the property cut really short so birds can more easily see the ticks?
 
Su Ba
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I am skeptical that a narrow chicken moat would work because....
.... Wildlife carried ticks to our property. Primarily deer, but mice and other animals too. Wildlife, like deer, squirrels, opossums, raccoons, snakes, birds, etc would all be capable of crossing over the chicken moat.
.... Chickens sleep half the day. I've seen ticks crawling up the side of my house and fencing even at night.

When we moved to that property, ticks were so bad that you could find hundreds crawling along the pasture post & rail fencing and see dozens on the house siding. Our dogs each acquired dozens of ticks walking on the outside of their fur on their first potty walk. So the place was tick city.

Beside using tick control on the dogs, we also put out Frontline treated cotton balls for the mice to take for making their nests. We were told by a wildlife biologist that it would help. We also put up a deer feeder that incorporated an insecticide rub. I can confirm that it made a significant difference. We opted not to spray the entire 7 acres with insecticide. The steps we took really knocked back the tick population, but we had to do maintenance control the whole time we lived there.
 
Su Ba
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How we chose to do tick battle was not permaculture. Though we opted not to spray the acreage, we did use some insecticide. But we opted to use as little as possible, but still do something to protect ourselves, our guests, and our dogs from tick diseases. I don't know how much help the chickens and guinea hens were, but I like to think that they ate some ticks. But I can't confirm that.

A funny story.....our Basenji dog hated ticks. He was phobic about it. Not only could he find a tick on himself and try to remove it, but he could locate ticks deep in the fur of our husky and two Shibas. So if we saw him deeply sniffing the fur of one of the other dogs, we could be certain that there was a tick. Now THAT'S permaculture tick control!
 
r ranson
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Lyme, especially Chronic Lyme is a political can of worms in Canada right now. I think in the US too. With any luck this will just point to where the can of worms is without getting anywhere close enough to it to cause a ruckus. However, there are a few things worth pointing out about things like maps and other charts for where Lyme is prevalent.

One of the main problems with Lyme is that the only (government - as in Canada and the US) recognized testing for it at this time, has a very high false negative rate. Depending on which study you read, in over 60% of the negative results the person actually does have a Lyme infection, only the infection does not show up in the blood work. The official line the medical community takes in my part of the world is that the test has roughly a 45% chance of reading false negative. Also, an interesting sidenote is that the tests are for the Lyme infection most common in the East, the other 2,000 known strains of the infection do not yet have a test that is officially recognized by the entire healthcare community.

Given that there isn't a universally recognized accurate test for the infection (there are more accurate tests, they just aren't accepted by everyone), the diagnosis of Lyme is usually a diagnosis of exclusion. Is it cancer, nope, is it a flue, nope... not all this other stuff, then the only thing that is left that fits these symptoms is Lyme. If it responds to Lyme treatment, and it isn't this long list of other things then we will write it down as Lyme.

That's all well and good; however, given that doctors are individual people and prone to individual biases based on their training, external pressures, and past experiences, some doctors are more likely, and others less likely to diagnose a Lyme infection.

There are lots of other issues, like the current campaign against giving humans too many antibiotics as it is the main cause of superbugs (mumbles something about antibiotic abuse in CAFOs, cough cough)... basically they all add up to a huge controversy with two distinct sides: Officially sanctioned government recognized criteria for diagnosing Lyme and the other extreme that shouts loudly about the lack of research and funding into this pandemic (their word) which has a much broader criteria for diagnosing Lyme infections. Basically what happens from this is that to prove their point, they tend to stray as far from the middle ground as possible. For example, in my province, the party line is that we have 2 people per year infected with Lyme (chronic or otherwise) and the other side saying we have over 20,000 per year. When in actuality, if it wasn't a political quagmire, we probably have about 400 to 1,000 actual cases of Lyme (the numbers in this last sentence are (partly) my opinion based on way too many hours reading and talking with health professionals and biomedical ethicists).

What's this have to do with the pretty colours on the map?
Paul, if you don't know yet, I totally respect you and your right as owner and dictator of this site. Feel free to tell me where to stick my opinion if I go too far here.
That map and the site you link to has an obvious bias towards the government sanctioned party line regarding Lyme infections. Following some of the links, you can see a strong connection to the CDC. The makers of that map are probably using a very choice selection of the data available when deciding what colours to paint their map. It may be beneficial to check out the other side of the argument before you dismiss Lyme as being something to worry about.

That didn't get too political did it? I tried not to vomit my personal bias all over the post. Hope the ticks didn't get you too badly.


As for tick control. Chickens are awesome. They love munching on ticks. Depending on the tick, the ones in our area generally require spending some of their life cycle on mice/rats and/or on deer. Discouraging rats/deer from our main area has seriously reduced the number of ticks we see. Having grass munchers (sheep) take care of long grass helps reduce ticks and mice (no where to hide). The chickens sulk at the lack of ticks, but hey, they are chickens. There are plenty of other bugs in the grass.
 
Tasha Leong
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I had Lyme's a few years ago and let me tell you-it was AWFUL. First thing I noticed was the worst stiff neck of my life. I was working overtime on a Saturday and it got so bad I left and went home. That night I got a fever, nearly passed out and had to crawl from the bathroom back to the bedroom. Every joint in my body started hurting. I started getting this weird rash on my legs, my fingers swelled up and the ends turned purple and hard, Then the skin on the joints of my fingers (palm-side) started to peel off. This was in the beginning of December in Minnesota. The doctor thought it was "just a virus" and prescribed Prednisone. Didn't do a darn thing. After a few days we went back and suggested a check for Lyme's. It came back VERY positive. 2 weeks of antibiotics and I was mostly back to normal. For the next year though every time I took a shower you could see the shadow of the rash on my legs again. I don't know if I got it in MN or if I got in Nebraska where I spent a week around Thanksgiving that year. Not having it here in MT is a great thing. There's plenty of other tick-borne illnesses that DO thrive here though. Living up on a mountain we haven't seen a single tick (and only 2 mosquitos!) which is great
 
R Scott
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Lyme isn't the worst there is anymore. Diligence is needed everywhere. But don't let it stop you from enjoying the outdoors. I am convinced someone with a truly healthy immune system and complete diet won't get lyme or most other diseases.

I had it for probably seven years or so before it was diagnosed. Took a long time to get over it. Knowing what I know now, I am sure I can fight it next time.
 
Judith Browning
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R Scott wrote:Lyme isn't the worst there is anymore. Diligence is needed everywhere. But don't let it stop you from enjoying the outdoors. I am convinced someone with a truly healthy immune system and complete diet won't get lyme or most other diseases.

I had it for probably seven years or so before it was diagnosed. Took a long time to get over it. Knowing what I know now, I am sure I can fight it next time.


I agree with the healthy immune system approach...........I have been bit by many, many ticks over forty years and found out two years ago with blood tests, that I had active tick fever and also the antibodies from having had it in the past and the same with lyme. I didn't have symptoms that were clearly either one. The dr. tried to play down the lyme and said it just doesn't happen here and gave me a ten day conventional treatment. After a lot of research I am dosing with astragalus regularly year round and double doses during the worst of the tick season. I can't avoid getting bit...two so far this year and both deer ticks. It is much better now that we don't have a dog bringing them in to the yard. I know deer carry them but having dogs is a sure way to have them everywhere near your house.
 
r ranson
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Another voice in favour of healthy immune system here.

There is one school of thought that says that lyme bugs hit harder in people who consume foods that create pseudo-estrogens.

In my own case, when the doctors started talking about life expectancy in weeks instead of months, it was a drastic change to my diet that (I feel) made the difference.

Lyme, especially Chronic Lyme, is absolutely horrible, but it's amazing what a difference diet can make with managing the symptoms enough so that the body can heal itself.
 
Lisa Allen
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Location: San Diego, CA USA
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Interesting map Paul - I actually know someone in Montana who was diagnosed after a decade of symptoms with Lyme. However, I wonder if she caught it by visiting California or something. I should ask her! In any event, I highly recommend folks with Lyme look at the book on this topic written by Wolf Storl. He was at the MT Herb Gathering a few years ago and he is awesome!
 
Devin Lavign
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It might be worth checking the tick check site https://www.tickchek.com/stats/state/montana/lyme Which states 26 confirmed cases of Lyme in Montana, and suspects 208. Though they don't inform if this is from person who contracted the disease in state or out of state or from a tick found with Lyme in the state.

Now this http://lyme.kaiserpapers.org/lyme-disease-in-interior-western-states.html goes a bit deeper, mentioning that there is a not Lyme but similar disease in Montana that responds to Lyme treatment.

I would personally say, for folks in Montana not to be overly paranoid of Lyme but to still be cautious and if bitten watch for signs of Lyme. the sad part of Lyme disease is it has been steadily spreading across the country. So just because it wasn't somewhere last year, does not mean it isn't this year, or wont be next year.
 
Fae Comiskey
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Opossums are supposed to be great for keeping tick populations down. The walk around, they get covered in ticks, and then they eat them. Repeat.
How one makes their property appealing to opossums while keeping their chickens safe, I'm not sure. But.. interesting to think about.

Also Lymes is an incredibly sneaky and misunderstood disease.
The guidelines by which doctors diagnose lyme vary by location and infections in your area, so people can travel, get it, go back home, and be told they don't have it.
Changing weather patterns are seeing the spreading of insects not typical to certain areas. And travelers can bring insects home in their belongings.
There are also secondary and similar infections to worry about that aren't specifically lyme.
So it's my opinion that any and all prevention that can be put in place is worth the effort.
If that includes digging a moat so be it.
Moats are super cool anyways.
 
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