[Editor Note: This is Part Two of a two-part article on Lyme disease by Steve Hines, outdoorsman and Wilderness First Responder. Click here for Part One: What’s Biting You?]


The best treatment for Lyme disease bacteria is antibiotics. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Patients treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely.” Patients with certain neurological or cardiac forms of illness may require intravenous treatment.

However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) tells us, “Physicians sometimes describe patients who have non-specific symptoms (like fatigue, pain, and joint and muscle aches) after the treatment of Lyme disease as having post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS).”

So, don’t assume that because you and your doctor caught it early, and you took a course of antibiotics that you need not be careful. This is the case especially for seniors, since one symptom is cognitive impairment. The question comes up, “What’s normal age related ‘forgetfulness’ and what’s a lingering symptom of my Lyme disease?”


It seems, then the best treatment for Lyme disease is prevention.

And prevention falls into two categories:

1. Personal protection

The first line of defense is protection when outdoors. Personal tick sprays use the chemical DEET.

The CDC recommends 30-50% DEET to prevent the spread of pathogens carried by insects, and it should be applied every 3-6 hours

Examples of tickproof gators. Worth it if frequently in high scrubs.

Finally, a number of outdoor clothing makers offer clothing in which the fabric’s threads are infused with permethrin. Hats, shirts, pants, socks, bandanas and gaiters are available from brands including Outdoor research, Orvis, ExOfficio, Craghoppers all offer these clothing pieces. Check with your local outdoor retailer.

Clothing containing the insecticide Permethrin (also known as Nix) is effective. Products like Sawyer’s Permethrin Spray can be squirted on clothing to make it tick (and mosquito) repellent.

Once you gear up with these products, don’t get overconfident. The critical activity for Lyme disease prevention is to inspect yourself from head to foot thoroughly when you come indoors. Ticks like warm dark moist places—so you know what that means for inspection.  Don’t be shy.

2. Controlling ticks in the environment.

CDC experts suggest that, in the absence of a human vaccine for Lyme disease, “no single method will be sufficient to substantially reduce Lyme disease.” Therefore, a main goal of researchers is not only to develop new treatment methods, but to assess the effectiveness of combined treatments for habitat.

What’s a potential habitat for Lyme? Richard C. Falco, of Fordham University has conducted research on this and asks questions including:

  • Is the property located in a Lyme-disease-endemic neighborhood?
  • Is there a history of tick bites associated with the property?
  • What is the proximity to woods?
  • Are deer observed on the property?
  • Is the property shaded?

If the answer is “yes” to all these questions, you should consider a tick-management plan from a professional. However, if the answer is “yes” to some of the questions, agree on a plan you are comfortable with given the estimated level of risk.

The deer tick is now carrying a disease more deadly than Lyme called Powassin. The CDC says approximately 75 cases of POW virus disease were reported in the United States over the past 10 years. But the danger is real and no cure exists. So, take precautions. [Editor Note:  As Steve suggests, Powassin is important to know about.  Click here for our SeniorsSkiing.com Powassin story from 2015.]

[A Final Editor Note: Our own SeniorsSkiing.com correspondent Suzie Winthrop alerted us to an important effort to better understand and fight Lyme disease. The Bay Area Lyme Foundation is asking people who get bitten to send the tick to them for analysis. You can learn more by checking out bayarealyme.org. They have been getting submissions from all over and will send you a report on your submission after it is analyzed.]

Find out how you can fight Lyme by submitting ticks from your area.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *