Protection from Lyme Disease from Ticks or Mosquito-borne Illnesses on your Homestead


| 12/3/2019 9:48:00 AM


Inn Serendipity Homestead on 5.5 Acres (of tick habitat)

Mosquitoes and tick-related diseases are on the rise. It’s gotten so bad in some parts of the country that some communities in urban areas have taken to widespread applications of insecticides to kill off the flying pests. While covering up and staying away from insect-prevalent areas may be the official advice from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), for homesteaders and farmers, it’s completely impractical. The CDC also advises the application of insecticide poisons and destroying tick habitat, the exact opposite of how we manage our organic growing fields and pastures at Inn Serendipity Farm and B&B. While not our strategy, we’ve met many homesteaders who have embraced having tick predators, like guinea fowl and chickens, around, allowing them to roam free to eat ticks.

Dealing with Lyme disease in the Upper Midwest, let alone other parts of the country, can be daunting, often perplexing the local health care system. My son most likely had Lyme disease off-and-on for over a decade before my wife Lisa Kivirist and I had to switch health care provider from The Monroe Clinic in Monroe, Wisconsin, to Lutheran Gundersen in Hillsboro and work with a doctor who was willing to examine the symptoms and listen to the patient and consider that we actually do live in an extremely dangerous area with respect to prevalence of the black legged ticks (deer ticks), the usual transmitter of the dreaded and debilitating Lyme disease and other tick-related infections after being bit. Our doctor at Gundersen was actually willing to make a clinical diagnosis of my son’s infection. As it turns out, the official blood tests for Lyme are extremely unreliable, offering both false negatives and positives. In the case of my son, the blood test did, eventually, come back positive, confirming the clinical diagnosis.

The typical dose of 14-days of the antibiotic Doxycycline to treat for Lyme may -- or may not -- always completely knock out the stealthy bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi or other problematic bacteria carried by ticks. I’m still managing what I can only ascertain as chronic Lyme disease or another tick-related disease. When I start asking around, I’m hardly alone. The litany of symptoms, which often can change and be seasonal, are tormenting. From aching feet to headaches, sudden shoulder or elbow pain to irritable bowel syndrome, the list goes on and on, related to what some people experience. According to the CDC’s website: “Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.” The only symptom my son had was a swollen right knee. Turns out that Lyme can mess with Lymph glands and get into joints, making them swell up.

Protection Against Tick Bites and Lyme Disease

We live out in the country, like many homesteaders. There are woods, tall grasses, places where standing water collects and where deer run wild. What the CDC gets it wrong, I think, is that covering up is an effective strategy against ticks. I’ve found the ticks merely hitch a ride on a pant leg inside our home or crawl up under clothing. While more research is needed, another huge problem may be that climate change has made ticks’ winter survival more successful. Their populations have mushroomed and their range has spread rapidly across the US.



To project against ticks, we’ve focused on insect repellents. Like many families, my family tries to stay clear of the toxic DEET-based repellents, that while effective, have adverse effects. We’ve found most of the natural products to be only modestly effective -- but we’re still searching and trying these.





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