Fret not: You are safe from ticks here
The Alpena News’ Aug. 6 editorial offered excellent suggestions for avoiding ticks and correctly suggests that ticks are no reason to avoid the beautiful nature Northeast Michigan offers. Indeed, medical research continues to show decreased depression and decreased blood pressure in persons who walk in parks and forest trails.
Further reassurance is this: While the tick species that can carry lyme disease is present in Michigan, no ticks tested in our area had the lyme disease bacteria. In contrast, in the worst lyme-infected areas of the nation one-third of ticks are infected, meaning that even in Lyme, Connecticut, two-thirds of tick bites are harmless — and nearly 100% harmless if the tick is properly removed the same day.
Back to Alpena. Zero is a funny thing in math, so let’s instead assume that one in 10,000 ticks are infected in Northeast Michigan and you leave the tick on your body for two days because, hey, ticks need to eat too. Your chance of infection is 0.0001%, lower than your risk of death or disability from some of the antibiotics used to treat the non-existent infection. But, because you’ll worry about it regardless of science, you can reassure yourself by placing the tick in a covered glass jar or vial and asking if your doctor can send the tick to pathology for testing.
You and your pets are safe, just follow the Alpena News Aug. 6 editor’s advice and enjoy nature’s beauty all around you.
ALLAN P. FRANK, M.D., M.S.