Your Medical Questions Answered!
by Joseph B. Leibman, MD
Diplomate, Board Certification of Emergency Medicine
Chairman, Department of Emergency Medicine Ma'ayenei Hayeshua Hospital
Ticks are not common in Israel, but they are in cooler areas where Yated reaches. Ticks are blind and affix to their victims by attaching to them as they pass by a tree or stroke an animal. They bury their heads underneath the skin and begin to imbibe blood.
Ticks transmit many diseases. Babeosis is a disease of the Massachusetts area and Lyme disease originated in Lyme, Connecticut. It is transmitted by a very small tick and causes arthritis, a rash and can cause heart disease. Tick paralysis is paralysis of an arm or leg that continues to spread up the rest of the body until the tick is removed. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is seen outside the Rocky Mountains and may present without the fever and without the spots. It can cause a person to be very sick and can cause death.
Ticks should be removed carefully, as pulling hard can leave the head pieces in. Killing them with mineral oil beforehand may make it easier. In any case, in all people who do not feel well, a past tick exposure must be reported to the doctor.
Another horror is a little bug that sucks our blood, but does not cause disease transmission as far as we know. Nevertheless, the Middle Eastern version is quickly becoming immune to all known substances. We are of course speaking about lice.
The basics again: Comb out all live specimens daily. Eggs are impossible to remove with any substances known to man (oil, vodka, cement remover, etc.).
The following probably work the best to remove all infestations, once daily combing hasn't succeeded: petroleum jelly (Vaseline) in the hair for a few days is messy, but it suffocates the little buggers. Resprim (Bactrim in the USA) affects the bacteria in their stomachs and can kill them. Ivermectin is a drug against the mite scabies (another scourge that we did not talk about) and it works here too, although it is not available in Israel.
Some other bugs of note: The puss caterpillar of the Western USA can cause vomiting from a toxin in its hairs. The conenose or kissing bug can cause a severe allergic reaction. Centipedes can do the same and cause local redness and burning. Millipedes are harmless. Pinworms like to come out in the early morning and cause a severe anal itching. These are often picked up from children who play in sand frequented by other children playing in the same sand while wearing a dirty diaper. Since sand is hard to clean, and is frequented by cats as well (who can spread the dangerous toxoplasmosi to pregnant women) we advise children to play elsewhere, or that rubber replace sand in playgrounds as a shock absorbing material underneath the sliding board. Write me in care of the Yated.
A message from Glaxo, sponsor of this column. Chicken pox is not innocuous and is definitely more dangerous when it occurs in adults. If it reaches the lungs, a bad pneumonia occurs. It can also reach the brain and cause a bad skin superinfection -- the flesh- eating bacteria. Getting Glaxo's Varilrix immunization against this disease may prevent these problems. This shot is currently given to all children in the USA.
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