Which Tick, What Pathogen, & Where?!

When I put up the first video, some questions started coming in.

  • Where would I find ticks in my yard?
  • Which ticks are in my part of the country?
  • What should I do if I find a tick on me or a loved one?

But the one that surprised me the most?

  • What does a tick look like?

When I finally picked my proverbial mouth up from the floor, I realized that there are people reading this site who have never seen a tick with their own eyes.

I promised to provide the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate safely. So… ladies, gentlemen, and non-conformist individuals, allow me to introduce to you to a tick.

© IStock – a drawing of a tick underneath a magnifying glass

Above is a stock image depicting a tick. Most are brown in color, or reddish-brown, and resemble a flat* raisin with eight jointed legs. The legs have hooks on the ends that they grab on and climb with. They are arachnids so they are cousins of spiders, scorpions, and mites.

*it looks flat until it’s having a meal. It will also change color as it feeds.. more on that later.

Let’s call him: Dick. It feels right, yanno? Dick The Tick.

Dick has a mate, Etta, who has quested for a decent-sized mammal because she is reaching the end of her life. When Dick sees Etta is taking in a large meal, he takes his spermatophore (a little sack of sperm) from his “genital pore” and puts it in Etta’s genital pore.

I kid you not, read this Slate article for more details. The author likened tick procreation from the female side to getting “interrupted at breakfast by the UPS guy, with a package of perishables.” 😂

The thing is: if you look at a more realistic image (or an actual picture), that “raisin” has 2 claws protecting what looks like a blade of a chainsaw in the middle of its mouth parts. That is called a hypostome.

An Ixodes scapularis or Deer Tick

When most people see this up close they squirm, cringe, and wonder how much the bite hurts. They are surprised, but relieved, to learn that they wouldn’t feel a thing with most pathogen-carrying ticks!

The tick species that most transmits BorreliaEtc, the Ixodes, has a lidocaine effect in its saliva. It opens the skin with its claws, then uses the hypostome like a straw to take a meal.

Many people who become sick with BorreliaEtc don’t remember ever feeling a tick bite.

Besides the lidocaine effect, ticks have anticoagulants in their saliva so the blood will keep flowing. They also have proteins they pass into our bloodstream that fool the immediate surrounding tissue into not reacting via immune system.

All of this together means that when we don’t feel the bite and our body is told not to fight the bite – the parasites the tick is carrying will enter our body without the slightest bit of pushback.

Ticks are so well-adapted to carry pathogens (they don’t get sick!) that we have studied them for biowarfare. Kris Newby’s book Bitten details the evidence in pictures, with both written and spoken testimony.

Let’s stay with the Ixodes (“ick so deez”) that are commonly called Deer Ticks. They are the type you will see and hear about most when Lyme disease is the main topic.

Here is the tick life cycle with some details, courtesy of the CDC:

Deer Tick Life Cycle

Image ©CDC
Deer Ticks live for a 1-2 year life cycle
Eggs -> Larva -> Nymphs -> Adults
©CDC – ticks live for a 1-2 year lifecycle.
Eggs -> Larva -> Nymphs -> Adults

Though I linked the image above to the CDC (that is where the image comes from) I urge you to question the claims the CDC makes.

Ultimately it comes down to money. We don’t survey every county in every state to have a real idea of tick distribution in the USA. We don’t study the infections enough. The authors of the *IDSA’s Lyme Diagnosis & Treatment Guidelines nearly all have conflicts of interest.

(IDSA = Infectious Diseases Society of America)

If you want to know what we have been fighting, please watch Under Our Skin. Especially from time stamp 42:32 to 44:30.

Those two minutes will explain our biggest complaint with the CDC: profits over people.


Back to ticks.

I found this map on a veterinarian’s website, color-coding what areas of the country we have to be careful of ticks in what time of year.

I’ll make it easier:

(Sorry, I didn’t label Alaska: May-Oct.)

It took not even a minute for me to put a palm to my face. This map is woefully behind current data at best, and misleading at worse. Climate change, deforestation, and overall human influence on nature has expanded the natural habitat of ticks. We’ve also found out that ticks can survive in colder weather than we previously thought.

EVERYWHERE on that map should be purple. All 50 states have pathogen-laden ticks in their borders year round. Snow fall actually insulates the ground; we are learning so much about the survival of ticks that changes the entire game.

I remember a time when the argument was: “Ticks can’t cross the Mississippi River! That’s an East Coast problem.”

Once a surgeon told me and my caregiver that she moved her family from the Midwest — where her babies came inside from playing and she found ticks all over their groin areas(!) — to the West Coast because she was told there are no ticks out here. (I hated bursting her bubble on that one.)

Birds can fly over rivers, giving ticks a first class ticket to visit other parts of the country. Deer/horses/moose/etc can swim. Ticks have all kinds of methods for conquering their environmental challenges.


Of the (approx) 90 types of ticks we have in this country, 9 of those species can transmit dangerous pathogens to humans. They are the:

  • American Dog Tick
  • Brown Dog Tick
  • Blacklegged (or Deer) Tick
  • Western Blacklegged (or Deer) Tick
  • Pacific Coast Tick
  • Rocky Mountain (or Wood) Tick
  • Lone Star Tick
  • Groundhog Tick
  • Gulf Coast Tick

We used to divide the USA into 4 areas: the West, the East, the Midwest, and the Gulf Coast. However, ticks that were once only on the Gulf Coast are now found up the Atlantic Coast and in the Midwest. Now we have condensed the areas into 2: the West and East.

Let’s start with the West.

Screenshot of Google Maps of the Continental USA, encircling the western populations of ticks. (the blue dot is my GPS working lol)

These are the 4 ticks to be on the lookout for:


The Central Plains, Gulf Coast, Midwest, and Atlantic Coast now make up the eastern population of ticks in the United States.

East of the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Coast you’ll find:

Gulf Coast Tick

One last thing.. the longer a tick has been feeding on you or a pet, the bigger it will get. The color of the tick turns lighter brown to a gray.

Tick ID Card with 7 kinds of ticks, what the different stages of life look like and the top 2 lines are
how they look after feeding. The two ticks missing from this are the Groundhog Tick and the Pacific Coast Tick.

Now, yes, ticks and other vectors such as mosquitos and fleas are outside and pose a threat to our well-being. I’m not trying to scare anyone into never leaving home – I love nature. If I was well enough I’d hike, travel forests, go to the beach, visit national parks.. I’d go everywhere I could. I’d just make sure I’m prepared for many outcomes.

In my own yard my parents and I keep our grass cut, we have wide trails for walking in our forested back yard, we keep natural pest repellant for our bodies and our animal’s bodies.

We have to be careful about using chemicals on our property (I’m highly sensitive) so we use products with essential oils rather than chemical repellents.

The best thing to do is a tick check when you come inside.

When you’re done with gardening, hiking, playing, walking in the woods, and all around enjoying the great outdoors, please follow these steps:

  • Throw your clothes into the dryer for 10-20 minutes
  • Get in the shower (washes away ticks that aren’t attached)
  • Check your body (and ask for help with those hard-to-see places like your back and head!) for attached ticks
  • Get the right tool
Tick Ease Tool, can be found on chewy.com
The Tick Take, also on chewy.com
O Tom Tick Remover

When you have an engorged tick it is important to grab it as close to the skin as possible on its hypostome. Do not squeeze the tick while still attached.

With your tweezers or tick tool, take a firm hold on the hypostome and pull steadily up. Don’t yank, don’t tug, just keep pulling steadily and the tick will let go.

Put the tick in a bag or container you can close, and clean the wound on the body.

Next you want to report this tick to a university or program that will help you identify it. Have a tick tracking app downloaded and ready on your phone.

I suggest:

Or:

After you’ve taken the picture and sent your report in, put the tick inside a Ziploc bag with a wet paper towel so you can send that tick into a lab. Label the bag with the date, time, and where it was attached on your body. For more detailed instructions, read this page.

Send in the tick to a lab to be tested:

TickReport
www.tickreport.com
Telephone: (413) 545-1057

Ticknology
www.ticknology.org
Telephone: (970) 305-5587

TickCheck
www.tickcheck.com
Telephone:  (866) 713-TICK

IGeneX
www.igenex.com/tick-borne-disease-testing/
Telephone:  (800) 832-3200


Then keep a sharp eye on yourself or your loved one. If you start to experience any symptoms like a cold, or if you feel any joint pain and lethargy, please call your doctor as soon as you can. Repeat the information about the tick that bit you (when, where it was, etc) for your doctor and show them the picture you took of the tick, or the report the lab created for you.

How Many Annual Borrelia Cases In The USA?

Have you ever heard about a stadium called “The Big House” in Michigan? It can fit 107,601 people at full capacity.

Michigan Stadium, photo © 2009 Getty Images
Michigan Stadium, © 2009 Getty Images


It would take filling more than 4 of these stadiums to reach the amount of USA Lyme disease cases diagnosed e.v.e.r.y year. (476,000)

That’s an average of diagnosing more than 1,300 cases every day.

Borreliosis has been growing at terrible rates in the USA alone. When I first joined the Lyme community in the 90’s we were talking about 30k a year, then that jumped to 300,000 after 2006, then by 2016 we had 476,000 cases yearly. The numbers will only continue to grow exponentially unless we can come up with a real vaccine or truly educate the masses.

Take a look at this YouTube someone took of Michigan Stadium doing a wave.

It takes about 30 seconds for that wave to go all the way around. Over a minute for two cycles.

Now think about 4 of these stadiums filled to the rafters, standing room only. That’s the average of how many people are diagnosed with BorreliaEtc in the USA every year, and actually, we haven’t had an update in the average number of cases in years.

Please be careful when you go out.

Johns Hopkins University has good tips on how to protect you and your family. Read about them here.

Borrelia Etc Rally This Weekend in Purdy, WA!

Day: Saturday, 21 May

Time: 3:00p – 4:00p Pacific Time

Where: the entrance to the Purdy Spit Bridge, on the green in front of the “Welcome to Purdy!”‘sign.

A map that points out the location of the BorreliaEtc Rally on 21 May at 3p
Rally Information!

Special addition: we will have petitions for Initiative 1741, Whole Washington‘s effort to get our State Senate to talk about making WA the first state to adopt Single Payer Universal Healthcare. If you’d like to sign this petition please stop by the rally or contact us!


I PROTEST!

By Lorraine Hart

 About two decades ago now, I was in a dangerous whirlpool of my daughter being so sick with Borrelia etc, while doctors insisted it couldn’t be Lyme, despite her symptoms, despite knowledge of the bites and bullseye rashes she had.  Even with the small amount of knowledge we had then, we were leaving doctors in the dust.  Their response was to close their eyes and write a prescription for any particular symptom she had mentioned.  Frustration at the many spins we had taken with doctors who parroted, “But we don’t have Lyme out here,” frustration at not being heard when I tried to tell them of the horrendous days and nights we were having.  Some days she writhed on the bed with so much pain, my husband and I had to stand on each side of the bed, making sure she didn’t throw herself off–and then the next day she couldn’t move one muscle in her body, only blink her eyes for yes or no answers to my questions.  As a parent, you spin.  As an intelligent human being, you spin.  Infections from ticks were real, and right in front of me, and yet we were treated as idiots by many, many medical professionals. 

     One Saturday in May (National Lyme disease Awareness month) I found myself needing to DO something, rather than the talking we’d been doing for years.  I grabbed a sign we had made that said, “Lyme Lives Here,” and told my husband and daughter that I was going down to a very busy intersection in Purdy, to protest.  There’s a safe, grassy edging on the Northwest corner, where I could hold up my sign and wave to the many cars going through the lights, or turning onto the Key Peninsula.  I stood there, danced there, waved there, yelled thank you to hundreds of drivers who honked or waved back as they passed, and thoroughly wore myself out in four hours of my solo Lyme protest.  Finally exhausted, I threw my sign on the passenger seat and drove up the hill towards home.

     I know I’m not Chicken Little, yelling that the sky is falling.  Lyme disease is on the rise all across America, all across the world.  I want my community to know about it, learn about ticks and their habitat of moist woods and grasslands, learn the early flu-like symptoms of Lyme, and learn how to keep themselves safer by pulling socks over pants, wearing light-coloured clothing, putting clothing in a hot dryer when you come in, and most importantly, to check one another for ticks that can be tiny in their Spring nymph stage, tiny as a poppyseed, or speck of dust.  I wanted to do something to help people learn.

     If we wait for others to organize, to make sure we are in a crowd before activism, well, we may never actually act!  Who says you need a crowd?  All we ever need is ourselves and our own convictions to help our communities.  Oh yes, and a sign that could start a conversation.  You can stand or sit in front of your own house, all by yourself, and you are a protest, speaking your truth and asking for a conversation.  I can tell you from experience of that day, and the nearly twenty Mays since, that it is worth the sore back from standing, worth the sore shoulders and neck from waving to my community.  Each year, drivers and passengers in the cars that go by, wave and honk back to let me know they hear me.  Each year someone stops and asks for more information.

     We can be our own protests, our own parades, our own seeking to reach and teach our communities, asking to be heard.  My protest is about the lack of knowledge and care for patients of Borrelia etc.  My protest is about the pain of watching my daughter be treated as “less-than” by the medical system.  It hurts.  My protest is about wanting to save other families from this journey.  My daughter joins me now, and my son brings his sons.  Sometimes other patients and their families have joined us, and our community now recognizes our stand.  All you need is conviction, and the desire for a respectful conversation.  Go.  Do it.  Your soul will be content to stand in loving truth.

Lyme Awareness Month 2022

This year’s Lyme Awareness Month started out with a bang! Niagara Falls and the Helmsley building both lit up green!

Screenshot of Niagara Falls webcam
1 May 2022
Screenshot of the live webcam from 5th Ave, the Helmsley building.
Be Tick Aware, a screenshot of Lyme Times Instagram.
LymeDisease.org

Ticks are found in all countries on all 7 continents (yes even Antarctica, on penguins and other birds who fly to and fro) in the world.
💚
Further you can find “hot spots” in a lot of countries like Germany, the USA, Canada, the UK, Kenya, India, Norway, Romania, Russia, France, Greece, Serbia, Bosnia, Turkey, Ethiopia, Finland, Mozambique, and I’m sure many others I just don’t know about.
💚
Please be careful when you travel, or when you go to and from work. Or when you play in your yard. 75% of Lyme cases in the USA are from tick bites in our own yards. (I’m in the minority of getting infected while out or on vacation.)
💚
The CG and I will be at the Purdy Spit Bridge on 21 May at 3p for the Annual BorreliaEtc Rally!
💚

The different ways BorreliaEtc is known and  suspected to transmit to humans. Sexual contact is not proven by a double blind study, but we see it enough in the Lyme Community. There are other vectors like insects and animals that are not portrayed here.

TickSpotters reported that the first nymph ticks of the year were spotted and reported to them on the third week of April in New Jersey. They could be carrying diseases. Please be careful.  

This is a collage of just a few places ticks can be found.  Please use proper precaution, tuck your pants into your socks, wear arachnid repellent (ticks are not insects!),  when you come inside, throw your clothes in the dryer and get into a shower where you look for ticks on your body.  Water will wash unattached ones away. Have someone check the places you can’t see. (Your head, neck, back,   etc.)  

This time of year they’re so small they go undetected.  Nymph ticks start out the size of a period at the end of a sentence. They’ll be size of a poppy seed in May and June.   Most people don’t see the ticks.. but feel the effects for years and years. Stay on trails. Be aware. It’s far easier to treat acute infections than letting it fester for weeks,  months, or even years.

#Lymediseaseawareness #lymedisease #BorreliaEtc #mayislymeawarenessmonth #blogpost #ticks #tickbornediseases

Mayday!

Monday Night Blog – 18 April, 2022

It’s been a week since the general support group and I can say: it was a big success.

Big.

Huge.

I was feeling over the moon when we ended and that feeling is still carrying me today.

11 people attended from 3 countries: the US, Canada, and the UK. All of us had disabilities to some extent, but what surprised me was how many are also full-time or live-in caregivers. I’m not sure why it keeps on surprising me; I suppose in my own brain it’s such a feat, it takes energy that I don’t have. But I was reminded: I am my own kind of caregiver, just not a live-in one.

Though the CG might disagree with me here, I do not consider myself her caregiver. I’m often taking care of her when she needs it, yes, but she takes care of me daily, whether or not she’s feeling tired, achy, etc… I couldn’t fill that sort of role day and night.

That said, I was made keenly aware of just how much I am contributing to my communities. I don’t feel like the drain I once-upon-a-time thought I was.

The group talked for two and a half hours! Thankfully with the years of experience I have as a support group leader (I started in 2003) I was ready for just about anything to unfold. Usually I will politely interrupt if someone is monopolizing the time, throw a question out to give everyone something to think about, ask people who haven’t had the chance to speak if they want that chance, etc.. but it’s pretty easy to tell when someone needs to talk. Not wants to talk, needs to. This group was so considerate of each other that when someone needed the space to talk, everyone respectfully gave it. Only once did we all talk on top of each other, but it was towards the end and we were all getting tired by that point ~ especially the ones from the UK, it was about 1:30a British Standard Time when we finished!

Though our disabilities vary (I always come from a chronic illness lens where I carry many different kinds of physical and mental disabilities… others come from single physical disability lens, others live and work with mental disabilities, etc) still we all found common ground in our struggles.

The next day during Kim’s show, Burn It Down With Kim Brown so many people thanked me (and at least three people were upset that they missed the first group!) that I couldn’t stop smiling.

We will continue next month, keeping it to the second Monday at 2p Pacific, 5p Eastern, 10p British. Please get in touch if you want to be on the list for next month, or if you’d like your own group for your show’s audience!

The CG and I are working on our introduction video (for people who haven’t been following us for years) but we learned something very important on our first go — we both need microphones. 😂 When we are more than a foot from the phone, its mic no longer picks up our voices clearly. So we are waiting for some parcels to arrive with a lapel mic and an extension cord.

Stay tuned…

Why do I feel like such a drain?

(Written January, 2019)

Papa Matt’s credit card expired and he got a new one recently. It’s bringing to the surface just how much my parents pay for me to live “comfortably” and somewhat close to “normal” even though I’m one of those ‘entitled liberals who lives off the Government’s teet’ – yanno, SSI Disability.

I don’t have much of a work history as my 2 known tick bites happened at 17 years old. I worked in a local bakery for 6 months until I ended up passing out in the back of the store after I threw up so much it tore my esophagus.

So when I applied for disability, of course I had to do the SSI kind. And I got it. I don’t think I should be getting 5 figures each month. I’m not that naïve. But what I don’t get is the expectation that we could take a monthly income of $747 and feel like we are (1) providing for ourselves, (2) helping the community and (3) helping the economy.

The holidays have come and gone. I borrowed money to be able to buy things for my nephews and family. We don’t do huge Christmases. I’m so thankful that we keep the reason for the season simple – Yule is love in our family. And a time to teach our younger generation that there is much to do in this world. So many need help, and when we are privileged in so many ways it’s our duty to turn around and help others.

The Art of Distraction

Gandalf: He’s suffered a defeat, yes, but… behind the walls of Mordor, our enemy is regrouping.

Gimli: Let him stay there. Let him rot! Why should we care?

Gandalf: Because 10,000 Orcs now stand between Frodo and Mount Doom. I’ve sent him to his death.

Aragorn: No. There is still hope for Frodo. He needs time… and safe passage across the plains of Gorgoroth. We can give him that.

Gimli: How?

Aragorn: Draw out Sauron’s armies. Empty his lands. Then we gather our full strength and march on the Black Gate.

Éomer: We cannot achieve victory through strength of arms.

Aragorn: Not for ourselves. But we can give Frodo his chance if we keep Sauron’s Eye fixed upon us. Keep him blind to all else that moves.

Legolas: A diversion.

Gimli: Certainty of death. Small chance of success.. What are we waiting for?!


-The Last Debate, Return of the King


When I have an episode, emergency, whateverwewannacallit, it takes a while for the medicine to start working, or for the brain to correct itself, or many other ways of getting past said emergency to happen…

So what to do?

I distract myself. I divert my attention from the thing making me miserable. This isn’t easy, but it works. Having a list on hand of the things I enjoy makes it that little bit easier of a choice.

One of my favorite distractions is Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I have artwork on my walls, maps of Middle-earth framed, every Tolkien book or movie that comes out… I try to get as much as I can. My caregiver knows that when all else fails, the answer to, “do you need to go to Middle-earth?” will be yes at least 90% of the time.

If you have a suggestion to add to this list, please leave a comment!


  1. PRN (as needed) medicines
  2. Soaking in a bath (Epsom salts, baking soda, bathbombs, etc)
  3. Massage
  4. Qigong
  5. Meditation
  6. Breathing exercises
  7. Researching vector borne diseases
  8. Researching family history
  9. Studying history
  10. Writing to my sponsored child in India
  11. Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit, the Silmarillion, etc, anything Tolkien
  12. YouTube channels for nature, independent news, and comedy
  13. IV Fluids
  14. Coloring
  15. Making up stories
  16. Detoxification
  17. Essential oils
  18. Wellness guides
  19. Support groups
  20. B-powered honey
  21. Browsing websites
  22. GLA peer mentorship program
  23. Play games like Sims, Idle, etc
  24. Cuppa hot tea
  25. Green tea ceremony
  26. Bird watching
  27. Cuddling with animals
  28. Training my service dog for public access
  29. Spending time with my nephews
  30. Reading fantasy stories, right now: Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  31. Drink water
  32. Work on the site
  33. More to come..

Support Sesh with Kim Brown!

This group is open to anyone who lives with at least one disability.  Whether by chronic illness, injury during service, genetic disabilities, hearing, sight, etc etc..  we want to get to know each other on another level, talk about a few things including ableism, how you deal with judgment, and whatever might be on your mind.

We are also open to caregivers, friends, and family.. If you want to understand a loved one a little bit more, we welcome you!

Please email me (Anna Hart) if you would like to join the meeting!

BorreliaEtc@gmail.com

8 December, 2021

When you see a glass in front of you, do you view it as half-full or half-empty?

Two glasses half filled with water - the question is are they half empty or half full?

This really is a serious question you should look at; how do you view life?

When you are faced with a dire situation do you spring into action… or shut down completely?

Do you take flight, or do you fight?

When dealing with tick borne infections you need the self-discipline and the drive to shape your own life for the best possible outcome. No one else can do this for you.

If you need, reach out to an advocate, a mentor, or a Lyme Life Coach. (Yes, they exist!) You can write into a BorreliaEtc group for your area, or inquire at places like GLA’s Peer program.

In fact, if you are a patient (or if you have a family member with tick infections) please do yourself a huge favor and get The Lyme Ease Survival Guidebook by a dear friend of mine, Jenn Hyla.

It is a small book packed with great information on BorreliaEtc. And it’s very affordable. It will help you in “Separating Facts from Fiction to Educate and Empower Lyme Patients”

Jenn is a Lyme Conqueror who mentors Lyme Warriors. She’s been down this path herself, she has a lot of brilliant ideas and she holds online classes/workshops – or she will work with you directly via phone and/or email if she’s able! I cannot stress enough the value of this book.

If you find it a good read, please get a copy for your local doctors and nurses! Or your library! This is information that should be available to all. I’m educating a new primary care doctor about these infections and am bringing her book in today.

But that will have to be a topic for another time, have to get dressed.