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Old 05-17-2012, 05:36 AM
 
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I live just outside of downtown Durham in an older established residential neigborhood near Duke (Trinity Park). Lots of older larger trees around and lots of plants in the yard and a decent sized lawn but no real woods to speak of nearby. I work out in the yard a lot so I wasn't surprised to pick up a few bug bites a couple of weeks ago. There were about 6 bites on my shoulders and around my armpits and they have been itching intensely but I haven't been scratching them excessively.

After about 2 weeks one of them started to swell up about the area of a credit card and develop a "bulls-eye" type pattern indicative of Lyme's disease. I went to the doctor yesterday and he is treating it as Lyme's disease. I went back out in the yard yesterday and it looks like I've picked up a few more bites.

I do not believe they are mosquito bites, chiggers, or bedbugs based on the pictures I've seen. Most of the bites are under arms or in other places covered by clothes like waistbands, and a couple on my lower butt. My wife, who doesn't spend as much time in the yard, has not been affected.

I have been bitten by many ticks over the years and none have itched excessively, and never have I been bitten by several at one time.

Anyone have any idea what they could be, other than tick bites? Has anyone else encountered anything similar this year? I wonder if this has something to do with the unusually warm weather over the winter.
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Old 05-17-2012, 06:18 AM
 
Location: Littleton, CO
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Default NC and Lyme Disease

Yes, tick bites can cause Lyme disease in NC. I can't think of any other insect that is a carrier for it. It was only recently (I think in the last year or two) that NC health officials admitted that Lyme disease even existed in the state. About 4 years ago, my husband had the same symptoms you describe. His doctor stated repeatedly that it couldn't be Lyme, because ticks in NC do not carry that disease. We were told that it might be Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but not Lyme. Now, four years later, he's suffering the effects of chronic Lyme disease. Periodic bouts of low-grade fever, exhaustion, aching joints, lower back pain. Please follow your doctor's recommendations, and keep following up. This is a terrible disease and shouldn't be discounted.

Also, he seems to be more susceptible to tick bites now. We will go hiking, and when we get home, I always have to pick 3 or four ticks off him. And they itch and swell every time, worse than mosquito bites. For some reason, I never get any bites; maybe because he's so sweet, and I'm and tough, bitter old lady!
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Old 05-17-2012, 06:27 AM
 
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Ticks do not just bite you and then leave, like a mosquito. A tick will eat a hole into your skin, large enough to bury his head, and then secrete a glue that holds it into place. Then it will proceed to drink your blood for as long as it can stay there. . . . .. days. It will start out small and then grow larger and larger as it feeds. It will be a brownish red in color. You will need tweezers and a firm hand to remove it. They mostly like to find dark warm places on your body. I have found a few around my waistband. . . . and . . . ahem. . . below the waistband
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Old 05-17-2012, 06:50 AM
 
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Lyme disease is incredibly rare in this area thankfully. If it were ticks that bit you you would have seen the ticks. Chigger bites can also have that bulls-eye look with the center eventually getting ***** and gross if your reaction is strong enough. Either way, the antibiotic regiment won't hurt you so I can understand why the doctor would go ahead and treat for Lyme disease just to be sure.
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Old 05-17-2012, 06:50 AM
 
Location: Chapelboro
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It could certainly be ticks. They often do bite several times before they find the place they want to hang on to. I've had that happen numerous times. But usually I do find the tick elsewhere. If they do that "bite several times" bit they typically start low and work their way up high, so I'll have several bites down lower on my leg, torso, wherever and then I'll find the tick up higher. It's possible that you just scratched the tick off on his way to his final spot before he could get attached.

My tick bites are always very itchy. I'm still scratching one from more than a month ago. You can become more sensitive to them over time.

You can also get in a "nest" of baby seed ticks. They are so small you might not see them. One of my kids got in them one time and it just looked like a teeny brown spot in the middle of the bite like maybe she had scratched a little too hard and it was a teeny scab. I decided to pull one of the "scabs" off with tweezers and look at it under the magnifying glass and that's when I could see that it had legs. I really couldn't tell it was a tick at all w/o the magnification and I have pretty good eyesight (can still read the date on a penny w/o glasses). So that's a possibility, too.

All that said, could be chiggers, too. They like to group like that, especially like to get under waistbands and in tight places (ticks often do too) and are intensely itchy. The bullseye thing sounds like Lyme, though, and I would stick with the antibiotics. I've known quite a few people to get Lyme in the triangle and it's definitely no fun. Not worth taking the chance. If you're not seeing the tick, though, it could be chiggers or even mosquitos (although the pattern of the bites at the waistband wouldn't suggest that). Chiggers can swell up a lot if you have an especially bad reaction to them. They almost always get a crusty scabby place in the center.

Incidentally, here's another weird tick thing that can develop over time—an allergy to red meat. Man's Sudden Food Allergy Was a Medical Mystery for Months . I've known several people who developed this problem. Pretty freaky because it doesn't show up until about 6 hrs after you eat red meat or smoked foods.
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Old 05-17-2012, 06:52 AM
 
Location: Chapelboro
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evaofnc View Post
Lyme disease is incredibly rare in this area thankfully.
Not that rare, I've personally known, let's see...7 or 8 people who've had it, and I've known OF more people.

I've known maybe 3 people who've had Rocky Mt Spotted Fever and about 3 people who have that weird red meat allergy as a result of tick bites.
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Old 05-17-2012, 06:55 AM
 
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Oftentimes you'll have people treated for Lyme disease as a precaution, not because they actually contracted the condition. Better safe than sorry sort of thing.

CDC - Cases by State - Lyme Disease

A rate of 0.2 is rare. Be thankful we don't live somewhere like NH or VT where a tick bite practically guarantees infection!
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Old 05-17-2012, 07:01 AM
 
Location: Cary, NC
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Lyme disease is not very common here. But...people are often treated for it with antibiotics as a "better safe than sorry" thing although there is not real diagnosis. Only a few hundred cases were confirmed in the entire state last year.

That said, your bites could be just about anything but it sounds more like chiggers to me though. There is also another biting insect called a midge or "no see um" that can leave itchy red welts.

Always use bug spray this time of year!
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Old 05-17-2012, 07:04 AM
 
Location: Chapelboro
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eva, for a long time the CDC denied that Lyme was in the South and instead referred to it as STARI, but now they are admitting it is Lyme. It is more common than many people know. I mean it's not like the common cold or anything, but it's definitely out there. I have 3 friends who have it right now. Here's a good website about tick borne disease in NC (Tick-Borne Infections Council of North Carolina, Inc.) started by a professor in the school of Public Health at UNC.
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Old 05-17-2012, 07:05 AM
 
Location: Durham, NC
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DEET will deter them. I use Deep Woods Off before going out in the yard or woods & reapply if I do a lot of sweatng or even just after a few hours. It won't keep them all off you, but it can help.

For the itch I use benadryl (sp?) spray. I use it on my mosquito bites too & it really seems to work for me.

If you can keep your grass trimmed lower I believe that helps - they like the taller weedier grass/overgrowth. I guess being up higher makes it easier to jump onto their next meal.

Wear long pants. If you can tuck them into your socks. Tuck your shirt into your pants. Long sleves if you can bear it (of course when it is 80 or warmer outside that isn't so much an option ).

A 'tick check' is a must when you come in. As others mentioned they like cracks & crevices so look carefully. Check your hairline & behind your ears too.

Pick up a good pair of tweezers & magnifier (I got ours at the drug store) for pulling them off. Don't just scratch it off, pull it out so you get the whole thing if you can. Once that is done clean the bite (neosporin, bandaid) and keep an eye on it.

As for the tick, I usually put mine on a piece of masking tape & fold it over on it so it is stuck nice & good on the tape then throw it away. If it can't move it eventually dies. Someone told me they can actually climb back up out of the sink if you don't wash them down well enough . I don't know if it is true? But I'm not taking any chances.
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