I’ve been picking ticks off of my horses for weeks. But this evening I found one on me. The tick was embedded and itching like crazy. I probably picked it up when I fed the horses this morning. Let’s face it, turning horses out on grass, riding in the woods, picking up manure in the pasture, those are all activities that put equestrians at risk.
I’ve already had Lyme disease once and am not looking to get it again. I remembered that last summer, I heard someone say that their doctor prescribed a single dose of Doxycycline on the day that you were bitten as a way of preventing Lyme. That somewhat contradicts what I’ve always read — that you won’t get Lyme unless the tick is embedded for at least 24 hours — but often you don’t know exactly how long the tick has been there.
It turns out that there are clinical results that support this protocol: In 2001 the New England Journal of Medicine published a study, Prophylaxis with Single-Dose Doxycycline for the Prevention of Lyme Disease after an Ixodes scapularis Tick Bite, by Nadelman, et al. The study followed the results of 482 people who had been bitten by a deer tick. Half of the participants received a single 200 mg dose of Doxycycline; the other half received a placebo. The results showed an 87 % success rate at preventing the development of Lyme.
Of course, the problem is that the deer tick nymphs are so small right now that generally you miss them. When I got Lyme, two years ago, I never saw the tick. Likewise, when my daughter had Lyme last year the first thing we saw was the rash.
Still, I’m taking no chances. I’ve already taken my Doxy and will be watching that rash!