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Tick borne diseases

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Joined: 16 Apr 2014
Posts: 3
Location: Lexington

PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 9:54 am    Post subject: Tick borne diseases Reply with quote

I had something strange happen to me during a 4 night trip I took the first week in June. I started at Leatherwood on the ST and was planning on taking out at HWY 27 near Whitley City. First day was easy and beautiful, about 12 miles and camped near the Chalet Creek Lodge. Second day I did about 20 miles and camped about half mile from Divide road, that night I struggled to sleep and started to run a fever and alternated between chilling and sweating all night. Next morning I had a sore throat, felt dehydrated, nauseated, and just felt like crap. I tried to eat breakfast but felt too nauseated to eat, I filtered some water and made myself sip on it all morning. I had cell service at Divide road (first time in a day) and called my dad who was concerned about my symptoms and said he would come pick me up the next day, I decided to follow the ST to Pickett State park and meet my dad the next morning. The 12 miles (give or take) that it took to get to Pickett felt like hell. Fever felt worse and had absolutely no energy, I moved very slow, took two naps and nibbled on my food and alternated between tylenol and Ibuprofen and drinking plenty of water. I ended up camping at the camp ground (people at the park were wonderful and very accommodating) took a shower, tried to eat some mac and cheese but could not stomach it and had another fitful night of sleep.

I initially thought that maybe I somehow drank some contaminated water, I had been careful and used my MSR filter for all my cooking and drinking water. I had no diarrhea, no abdominal pain or cramping and tick borne disease was the last thing I had on my mind... I grew up on a farm in central Kentucky and been exposed to ticks all my life with no symptoms though I was treated for lymes disease as a child. I was covered in ticks nearly the entire trip, I could not walk for more than a mile and not pull off more than 4-5 ticks, I did my best to keep them off but I would still find 7-8 ticks each night that I would miss during the day and find them feeding on my legs. I tried to be mindful about removing the embedded ticks and was careful to scrap them off to avoid leaving mouth parts behind but it got to a point I was frustrated and would just yank them off. By the second night, I would wake up and feel ticks crawling on me, I would evict them out of the tent but it seemed like I was swimming in these vermin. I used 100% DEET bug spray but nothing seemed to keep them off, it was not until my last night that I was taking a shower at the camp ground that I found a tick that was embedded at the center of my back (where I could not see or reach him without a mirror) that appeared that he had been there for a few days. I could not reach him so I used my knife to reach around and scrape him off.

Once I was home, I continued to feel sick, I developed a rash on my hands and feet and went to my family doctor after about 2 days of feeling worse. I explained my trip to him and he said that the rash looked like "Hand, foot, mouth disease" and wrote me a script for amoxicillian as a precaution for the tick exposure. I have not been exposed to any kids that had Hand-Foot-Mouth, our two year old son has been perfectly healthy for the past two months and has never had hand-foot-mouth. The next day I felt the worst I had felt since this ordeal started and I was at work (paramedic working 24 hour shifts) and spent the entire shift in bed (thankful for a slow day) and that night I was talking to one of the ER docs at our local hospital and showed him the rash on my hands and explained the situation to him. He was very concerned and said that it looked like Rocky Mountain Spotted fever to him, he told me to quit taking the amoxcillian and wrote me a script for doxycycline and told me to get it filled that night and start taking it. I followed his advice and the rash cleared up after a few days and I was feeling better within the week.

I have no idea for sure what I was exposed to, the rash was mostly flat but I had small bumps on the back of my hand, my finger tips and toes were painful and had what appeared to be tiny pin pricks all over them, about a week after the symptoms cleared the spots on my fingers started to shed dead skin. Reading about symptoms for RMSF, it makes it sound like that I might have been exposed, CDC website showed that area to have a much higher rates of RMSF then other areas in Kentucky. The ticks I was exposed to appeared to be mostly deer and dog ticks, many were normal sized but I also had plenty that were tiny. Though I am not 100% sure what I had, the moral of the story is to use caution during tick season, I will be more mindful of symptoms of tick borne illness and take more precautions to repel ticks and to be more through checking for ticks each night. Trip was wonderful despite the setbacks, I did not reach Whitley City but the time spent alone in the woods was magical, I did not see but a handful of people the entire trip and stumbled upon a black bear, a few coyotes, a fox, a few box turtles, a rat snake and plenty of wild turkeys. I only ran out of water during my trek past the John Muir overlook and was very impressed with the Big South Fork and how well maintained the area was, I will definitely be making a trip back in the future and will finish out my journey to Whitley City and beyond.
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merciless pace
merciless pace

Joined: 29 Sep 2008
Posts: 1092
Location: Burtonville, Ky

PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glad you are better. Thanks for sharing the word.
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