This has been probably the worst year I can remember for ticks. Lots of ticks. Early in the season, saw a lot of adult Lone Star ticks, but as the summer went on, mostly the small “seed ticks” which, though I am no entomologist, I suppose are larval or nymphal forms of the Lone star ticks. Apparently, that’s what we have the most of here in NC. See this very interesting article from the Raleigh News & Observer (not sure how long this link will stay accurate, I may have to change it).
I have probably pulled two or three dozen off me over the course of the season, typically found when coming in from a walk and doing the “tick inspection”.
However, one of them apparently was a bad guy, and stayed on long enough to give me a bout of tick fever. Four days ago, on the 27th, I came home from work feeling like I had a twinge of a “bug”. Temp about 99.5. Woke Friday morning to a temp of 100.5, so I stayed home, not wanting to infect the office. Went up to 101.5 during the middle of the day, but some ibuprofen pulled it down under 101. By Friday evening, however, it was over 102. Stayed between 102 and 103 all night (not breaking any overnight as a viral fever typically does), and as the intense headache started to kick in during the wee hours of Saturday morning, I became convinced that I needed to go to the doc. Fortunately, my doc has Saturday hours, so I called and got an 8:15AM appt. I told them that if they thought it was a virus, to send me home to suffer in silence, but that since I had pulled off a couple of ticks in the last two or three weeks (that I knew of!) I thought it prudent to come in. They said with known tick exposure and these Rickettsia-based illnesses, it was better to go with the antibiotics. Started my course of doxycycline at 9:30 Saturday the 29th. Took ibuprofen Saturday, and by Saturday night, while I didn’t sleep, I could feel the fever breaking. By early afternoon today, the 30th, I felt like a 2 mile walk, a bowl of chili for dinner, and another mile walk after dinner. I’m not 100%, but am moving that way fast.
I am pretty well convinced this was a tick fever. Likewise, I’m convinced that going in early and not trying to “tough it out” over the weekend was the key to my being able to type this tonight and being in bed with a high fever and splitting headache.
The moral of this story is to try to minimize tick exposure (but that’s hard to do here in suburban central NC), to do your tick inspections, and if you do feel that you have flu-like symptoms “out of season” or after known tick exposure, or if it just doesn’t feel like the flu, go to the doc.