“All these systems are designed to crush us. It is time to resist.” ~ Chris Hedges
I have Lyme disease. My border collie had Lyme disease. Wisconsin is a hotbed of Lyme disease as seen on the map here. It is the fastest-growing vector-borne disease in the country.
The more I experience and research this infection, the more complex and frightening it is revealed to be.
I had a wake-up call on “The People’s Pharmacy” on Wisconsin Public Radio a few months ago. The topic was medical mistakes. The doctor interviewed mentioned that he had a heart transplant due to Lyme disease not being properly diagnosed in a timely fashion. A few weeks later, in the segment for suggestions for shows, several people called in to suggest a show connecting the artificially high deer herd, Lyme disease and car/deer accidents in Wisconsin.
Thirty-five percent of ticks collected in Wisconsin tested positive for Lyme.
WPR news also announced that 10 times as many ticks were found in the UW Arboretum in Madison this year over last. Lyme is not just a rural problem.
Lyme is a pet as well as a human problem. Ellen Richardson, veterinarian and owner of Mazomanie Animal Hospital, said, “Tick-borne diseases have become the big infectious disease thing we see at our clinic. More than heartworm.”
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has perfected the exponential population explosion of the main hosts of the Lyme-transmitting black-footed tick. Mice and small mammals are hosts for baby ticks, and deer the main hosts of the adult ticks. Trapping out mid-range predators leaves little natural predation on mice, squirrels and rabbits. Because white-tail deer are the main cash crop of the DNR, management policies of killing “bucks only” promote the artificially high rebound birth rate of does left to produce the next live targets.
I live in the country north of Portage on a large wooded tract with a prairie restoration and creek. When I moved here in 2003, I had no problem with mice or ticks. That changed dramatically over the past three years. I noticed that all three propane tanks had mice living on them the past three winters — and mice started to be a nightly problem in houses. I talked to my propane provider, and he told me that mice are on top of tanks all over his route.
This coincides with the DNR’s recruitment of hunters and trappers on $5 license incentives, and expanding to seven months of unlimited trapping on all public lands and waterways, 24/7. The DNR hunter recruitment committee has trained 6,000 new trappers in just three years. This is added to 10,000 trappers already destroying foxes, bobcats, and coyotes, the latter relentlessly targeted year-round.
Trapping is unbalancing nature to such a degree that mice populations and ticks fill the void. We must ban trapping from our public lands to fend off tick-borne debilitating illnesses. The DNR is not just farming for high deer and mice populations — it is farming for Lyme disease. Deer are getting sicker. We are getting sicker.
Misbalancing nature produces diseases. It won’t be wolves and tigers and bears that kill us. Likely it will be prion diseases like chronic wasting disease (now in 25 percent of the 2-year-old bucks), avian flu, Ebola and tick infections. The Lyme tick not only transmits Borrelia burgdorferi infection, but a variety of diseases such as anaplasmosis and erlichiosis, infections likened to syphilis that screw into the muscles and joints and can migrate quickly into brain and vital organs.
According to the website Lyme Disease Action, “Lyme disease has been called ‘The New Great Imitator’ because, like syphilis (also a spirochaete) it may affect many parts of the body including the skin, nervous system, heart, joints and eyes (although transmission of the disease is different from syphilis).”
It has such a vast spectrum of symptoms that it is often misdiagnosed for years as chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis, and even Alzheimer’s because of brain fog. The bacteria can morph and lie dormant or change shape to hide in the body until activated by an immune stressor or another bite.
According to a 2013 article in the Journal Sentinel, Lyme disease is dramatically under-reported and poorly diagnosed. While 30,000 U.S. citizens report contracting the bacteria, the CDC estimates 300,000 or more actually get it annually. That means that nine out of 10 people with Lyme disease do not know what they have until it becomes chronic. The CDC reports that states with heavy concentrations of the ticks and hosts like Wisconsin are more likely to under-report. “In 2010, the infected tick prevalence from all 21 counties was 21.6 percent. It increased to 32.4 percent in 2011, 40.9 percent in 2012, and 51.2 percent in 2013,” according to Lloyd Turtinen, a Wisconsin virology and biology professor. Ticks can survive in sub-zero temperatures.
Lyme disease is most often contracted from a bite by a baby tick. They are so small that many people never know they were bitten. This is where the disease can become serious. If not diagnosed and treated early, it can become chronic and debilitating. Lyme sufferers have put up their own website because the main medical establishment has insufficient knowledge of this disease and do not recognize the long-term suffering.
It turns out that the Lyme test used to detect fails 60 percent of the time and is totally unreliable.
I had the bull’s-eye rash after multiple tick bites last year. A few weeks later, I became lethargic and unable to do anything but the simplest life-maintenance tasks. I felt better almost immediately when starting the 30-day doxycycline drug treatment. That first time the pills cost $4.95 for a 30-day treatment of two pills a day. I heard that if one took two pills when bitten, one could protect oneself from being infected, but there is no research to support this, nor did it work for me. I was bitten multiple times this past spring. When I returned to get another round of pills, the price had gone to $145 for the same dosage. This time, the symptoms were different. I had burning pain in my knees and hobbled about as if I were 95, with sharp shooting pains and the bottoms of my feet extremely tender. My neck aches. I am easily tired. The doxycycline gave me no relief at all. Another month course of a different antibiotic has proved futile.
In comparison to the approximate $100,000 per year in DNR income from licensing trappers, the citizens of this state who contract Lyme disease each will pay thousands of dollars in medical bills and long term antibiotics. It is a budget-busting disease. Fifty percent of patients see seven or more physicians before being diagnosed. Eighty-four percent are not diagnosed within four months and 36 percent are not diagnosed within six years. It can put one in a wheel chair, cause massive depression and rob life of function.
Wisconsin citizens are collateral damage to the nature-destroying policies of this DNR and Legislature. We do not seem to learn cause and effect. Trapping is a public health hazard that must be ended now.