The busy summer season is over, and usually by this time the officials at Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod close one of their seven camping areas, but this year they are closing three of their campsites.
Department of Conservation and Recreation officials note while they closed the three campsites that were closest to the problem areas, people can camp in other parts of the state park, they just need to dress appropriately and check each other for ticks when they leave, reports WBUR in a special series, “Living with Lyme.”
It’s a concern that swept this state park after nymph and larvae-stage ticks were found here this summer.
“What people were finding at Nickerson is, they’re finding like hundreds of these larvae on their little kids,” Cape’s Deer Tick Program Coordinator Larry Dapsis told NECN.
Dapsis said there were several factors that made this season worse than a typical year.
“There were so many days above freezing last winter the ticks had many, many opportunities to get a blood meal and lay eggs and so we have probably had a ‘kagillion’ more eggs than normal that were laid and are hatching out now.”
A small acorn crop last fall meant the tick’s favorite meal, mice, weren’t out as often feeding in the woods, Dapsis added.
“So with fewer mice that meant the ticks were out there for a longer period of time so it increased the probability that they were going to encounter an alternate host like a person.”
“A disease like Lyme disease, the transmission is not immediate, it takes at least 24-48 hours of attachment before the risk of getting the transmission goes up considerably.”
DCR officials say they moved anyone who was supposed to be camping in any one of the three affected campsites and they gave refunds to any campers who didn’t want to move.
“It’s an unavoidable risk in this area,” Kevin McNamara told NECN.
Kevin and Lisa McNamara live right next to Nickerson State Park in Brewster, Massachusetts. They say they know the deer ticks have been prevalent this year and they understand the state’s decision to shut down nearly half of the park’s campsites to try to protect people from tick-born illnesses.
Lisa McMamara said, “Actually I think it was wise, just having a son who was so ill with Lyme disease.”
She says the symptoms were devastating. “Oh my gosh, high fever, aches, I mean literally couldn’t get out of bed.”
Trust Your Instincts and Protect Yourself (Courtesy of Time For Lyme, Inc., affiliate of Lyme Disease Association, Inc, Greenwich, Connecticut.)
Protect yourself. Check yourself, family members, and pets for ticks daily. Remember that ticks are carried by deer, mice, birds and other small animals. Nymphal ticks are the size of a poppy seed in early spring and are particularly hard to find. They are active above 35 degrees. You can be reinfected repeatedly each time you are bitten by a tick.
Observe. A person infected with Lyme disease can exhibit symptoms within days of exposure, but symptoms may appear weeks, months, or even years after the bite.
Treatable. Lyme disease in its initial stage is often easily treatable; however, delayed diagnosis or inadequate treatment can lead to serious brain, heart, or joint problems.
Examine/evaluate. Early symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, numbness, tingling, fatigue, swollen glands, and migratory pains that may come and go. Late stage symptoms are generally multi-systemic and can be very serious.
Co-infection. A single tick bite can transmit more than 1 tick-borne illness, such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, or tulermia.
Youngsters. Children ages 5-12 are at the highest risk for being bitten by ticks because they often play in tick habitats. Children often find it difficult to explain the subtleties of how they are feeling, and may often appear well and remain physically active.
Obvious. A person may have Lyme disease without presenting the most obvious and “classic” symptoms such as bull’s eye rash, flu, joint pain, or swelling.
Understand. There are over 100 strains of Lyme disease in the United States; therefore, length and choice of antibiotic treatment vary greatly. Standard treatment of 2-3 weeks may be insufficient.
Recurring. Many people who suffer from Lyme disease experience symptoms that come and go over time.
Symptoms. The symptoms of Lyme disease, (also known as the Great Imitator) may mimic those of multiple sclerosis, lupus, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, mononucleosis, Alzheimers, Guillian-Barre Syndrome, ALS, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson ’s disease, ADD, or ADHD, GERD, or many other diseases.
Lyme disease can affect behavioral and cognitive functioning. Memory loss, attention deficit and processing problems, mental confusion, slurred speech, disorientation, irritability, depression, anxiety, and learning problems have all been reported as a result of Lyme disease.
What people were finding at Nickerson is, they’re finding like hundreds of these larvae on their little kids.
— Larry Dapsis, Cape’s Deer Tick Program Coordinator