As part of our bucolic Pennsylvanian environment we have many deer traipsing across our property throughout the year. These pleasant little groups, especially when they have the fawns with them, are nice to see, although, despite the best attempts of Disney, they do have a few annoying, and even darker traits.
The most direct impact they have is their relentless browsing on many things in our garden. We have had many plants, both vegetables and flowers taken, and much damage done to young trees and shrubs too by these marauding hordes. In their defense, it’s understandable as to them we are nothing more than a provider of a herbivorous smorgasbord from which to dine, but it’s bloody annoying nevertheless.
That being said, these hoofed visitors are generally harmless to us, though, with two notable exceptions. Firstly, they have a tendency to leap out in front of traffic, so injuring or killing not only themselves but many drivers who hit them and, secondly, they are a significant part of the lifecycle for the parasite that causes the Lyme disease that is so prevalent in our area.
Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by the spirochete parasite Borellia burdorferi which is carried by the deer tick, Ixodes scapularis, and delivered when the tick is having a good blood meal on a human being. This little payload can cause a classic “bullseye” rash of concentric red rings on the skin as the infection spreads, although it does not occur in all cases. Once infected the victim exhibits flu-like symptoms of fever, fatigue, muscle aches and generally feeling unwell. If it is diagnosed quickly enough then one or two 28-day treatment cycles of oral doxycycline should take care of it, although there can be long term effects which include joint pain, arthritis and neuropathies.
The weird thing, from my perspective, is that a person does not obtain immunity from the infectious agent, but can be reinfected. I know this as I have been immunologically diagnosed with this twice in 3 years so far.
So, as I sat here over the weekend I thought I’d create some “Lyme inspired” artwork, in the style of those pop art posters. Lyme Disease – the gift that keeps on giving!