I talked about ticks and tick borne diseases earlier this spring. We have had some nice spring rains and that makes great grass and hay for livestock, but it is also a near perfect scenario for ticks! Entomologists warned of a potential “tick explosion” this summer and we got it.
Occasionally I get a question about Lyme disease in Nebraska and specifically Gage County. If you ever wondered if it was here, the answer is YES!
A friend of mine was officially diagnosed with Lyme disease last week. He had been cutting some firewood in some local timber and found a tick on him one evening as he showed. The tick was engorged so it had been there a while.
In the days following he developed a red spot at the bite sight. The red spot grew to a ringed area around the bite site a little bigger than a quarter. When I saw it, it was the classic bull’s eye rash associated with Lyme disease.
Lyme disease may be what most people think about today when they encounter ticks. It has gotten a lot of media coverage in the last 40-odd years. Lyme disease was named in 1977 as a distinct illness that caused arthritis-like symptoms in a group of children in Lyme, Connecticut. Further study showed that it was carried by deer ticks.
There are over 30,000 cases of Lyme disease diagnosed and documented in the United States each year. New data from the CDC suggests that perhaps 300,000 people may be infected each year and that it now impacts an estimated 25 million Americans.
Most Lyme disease cases come from 13 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. Roughly 96 percent of Lyme disease cases are reported in these states.
Nebraska has far fewer cases of Lyme disease diagnosed each year than the states listed above. From a pure numbers standpoint it is unlikely to contract Lyme disease in Nebraska, yet I now personally know six people in the state who have contracted this illness. All have been outdoor enthusiasts.
While Lyme disease is not immediately life threatening, left untreated it can lead to:
• Chronic joint inflammation (Lyme arthritis), particularly of the knee
• Neurological symptoms, such as facial palsy and neuropathy
• Cognitive defects, such as impaired memory
• Heart rhythm irregularities
If discovered and diagnosed early, Lyme disease can effectively be treated with a regimen of antibiotics. It is important to get to your doctor as soon as you suspect Lyme disease and get back on the road to health.
Protecting yourself from ticks can effectively be done by covering up when you know you are going to be in tick country. Long pants, long sleeve shirts are good…and your cloths need to be a light color so you can easily see a tick crawling on you!
Products with DEET are good for keeping ticks off of you. Treating your clothing with permethrin can be effective. Permethrin can kill ticks on contact, but should only be applied to clothes and allowed to dry before wearing. Never apply Permethrin directly to the skin.
Ticks are part of the Nebraska outdoor experience. We really have no choice but to be ready to deal with them.
New Record Flathead
You may have heard this already because state record fish are usually big news. Sixty-one year old Richard Hagen, of Swanton, was fishing in the Missouri River near Brownville recently. He had a live bluegill on for bait and felt his line take a hit. When he set the hook, he knew the fight was on!
“I just knew I had a big fish”, Hagen said. “That’s all I knew.”
Hagen is no stranger to battling with big flathead, usually in the Big Blue and Little Blue rivers in southeast Nebraska. He has even caught a 64-pounder in Washington County, Kansas before.
Te previous state record was 80 pounds, caught 32 years ago in the Loup Power Canal near Genoa. Hagen’s catch weighed 89 pounds!
“I will tell you, anytime I start hearing rumors or my phone starts ringing, I’m cynical,” said Daryl Bauer, NGPC fisheries outreach program manager. “Way more often than not, it ends up not being quite as big as they thought it was, or the species was misidentified.”
But Bauer liked what he heard. Hagen had met a game officer in Tecumseh, where the fish registered 89 pounds on a certified scale. Bauer identified the species through photos. Bauer’s conclusion…a new record flathead. Congratulations, Mr. Hagen!
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