Monday, May 25, 2015

A Warning for Beekeepers about Ticks and Lyme Disease

Yesterday I learned of two people close to family members that are suffering from Lyme disease.  From what they were reporting, this disease can be life altering, and not in a good way.  Diagnosis if done right away and medication taken can have good results but if you contract Lyme disease from a deer tick bite and it goes undiagnosed you could experience a wide range of changing symptoms which make pinning down the diagnosis difficult.

I was told that in Canada there is a test that can be done and it can give false negatives which is what happened in the case of this family member.  They finally had to go to the USA at their doctor's suggestion where a different test not yet approved in Canada could be done.  Turns out he does have Lyme disease.

On the Mayclinic web site is a description of the symptoms.  It can start as a red bite that spreads out in a bull's eye pattern and then a rash.  This disease can progress to some pretty awful joint pain and neurological problems.  http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lyme-disease/basics/symptoms/CON-20019701

 This Ontario government health web site gives details on areas where the disease is more established as well as how to remove the tick, treatment, etc.  http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/publications/disease/lyme.aspx  In Ontario if you find a tick and believe you have been bitten you can get the tick tested for Lyme disease free of charge.

As beekeepers, we need to take this seriously.  Our bees are often kept in meadows and areas where deer travel.  Below is a note from the Ontario Bee Association to warn us to watch out for ticks in our hives.

OBA members Sharon and George Overton write: "We were told years ago that the ticks' intermediary host is the good old deer mouse, so beekeepers unwrapping hives from the winter should be careful, not only of ticks from the ground, but also from any mouse nests in the hive tops as they are unwrapped and the straw or whatever was used to stop condensation in the hive is removed, as it is a spot the mice will have wintered. The immature ticks are virtually invisible, so watch for signs of infection, even without obvious tick bites."

Let’s keep our socks over our pants to keep both the bees and the ticks out.
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