Forget bears and wild boar; the walker’s greatest enemy in the Pyrenees is only 2mm across. I know three people who have had serious problems after a tick bit. One was temporarily paralysed from his toes to his neck and given a 50% chance of survival; another was diagnosed with depression for many years until tested for Lyme disease; and a third was too ill to work and had to retire ten years early. The long-term symptoms are very varied and diagnosis difficult.
So I had taken notice of all the advice and when I was bitten by a tick recently I knew what to do. Or so I thought. The little red blob clinging onto my ankle wouldn’t let go, so I pulled gently on it with a pair of tweezers, as recommended. The idea is to force the tick to release its grip by pulling slowly. It didn’t work, so I pulled harder. And then finally so hard that I pulled the body off. I spent the next half hour digging deeper and deeper with a needle before managing to remove the pincers. The next day the doctor gave me a course of antibiotics and told me to arrange blood tests for a month’s time. He also said that I’d done it all wrong. The best way to remove a tick is to put a blob of liquid soap on it. The tick will release its hold of its own accord, he claimed. However the CDC calls this a folklore remedy, so who knows?
Tick bite symptoms
I didn’t notice the tick until I was about to go to bed. After the walk, I had taken a shower and not even noticed it then. There was no pain to give it away. This one of the problems with ticks: it is quite possible to be bitten and infected without noticing anything. The tick may even go away licking its lips after its blood transfusion, leaving no immediate trace of its passage. The most common initial symptoms are a dark blob around the bite or a pink blob plus a concentric circle. But there may be nothing at all to indicate an infection. The most important thing is to have a course of antibiotics as soon as possible.
That said I’ve only knowingly been bitten by a tick once in twenty years walking in the Pyrenees. And not every tick carries Lyme disease.
French test for Lyme disease not reliable?
In Germany 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease are detected each year, but only 27,000 in France. A group of sufferers is now suing the state and the manufacturer of the test used in France for negligance, reports Europe1. They claim that their illness was not treated early enough because of misdiagnosis.