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By James DrakeI had lunch with an old friend recently who works in all three Southern Maryland counties as a traveling nurse.

She goes to patients homes and does things from taking blood pressure readings to actually taking a little blood to be tested later in a laboratory.

In talking about her job, she told me I’d be absolutely amazed at how many people in our area actually suffer from lyme disease today and how very diverse the symptoms can be between patients.

This dreaded illness can involve things like skin problems, trouble with muscles and joints and intestinal tract turmoil to even emotional or cognitive function disorders.

Lyme disease is hard to diagnose and doctors often miss it as the actual cause of problems in their early treatment of the symptoms.

The real bad news is that 2012 is predicted to be a fierce year for ticks, and June through August will be the worst months.

The only way to get lyme disease is to be bitten by a deer tick. Those far bigger and often fatter dog ticks are not the big worry.

Saving a tick after you remove it could also save a lot of unnecessary expense from multiple doctor visits as well as unnecessary and useless treatments.

You generally have 24 hours to remove a tick that attaches itself to your body before it can transmit any infection. That would be great news if these parasites were big, noisy and easy to find. However, deer ticks transmit lyme disease and the nymphal deer tick is only about as big as a poppy seed and their bite is generally painless.

That makes them very hard to detect.

A bull’s-eye rash is the most well-known way to tell if you’re developing lyme disease from a tick bite, but not everyone gets it. It’s probably a very good idea to have a medical professional take a look at any unknown rash before it fades.

Some people don’t even get a rash, or at least one is never detected, but initial symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, sleep disturbances, poor memory, chest pain, palpations, lightheadedness, joint pain, numbness and tingling are some of the important warning signs of lyme disease.

Since lyme disease is so often misdiagnosed, you might be getting treatment for conditions that won’t help you one little bit. If you’re not getting better, or if the doctor simply takes a wait and see attitude, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get a second opinion for antibiotics are very effective against lyme disease if administered early.

Modern medicine can do a lot of things today, but we just don’t have a reliable test to see if you’ve got lyme disease or whether you’ve been cured of it. We have to rely on our physician’s experience to treat properly, based upon one’s medical history and symptoms.

You can buy tick resistant clothing today and add on products such as DEET have been proven very effective against ticks. Light colored clothing makes ticks easier to see and you should absolutely check yourself and your children after being outside.

Ticks don’t drop down on us from the trees, they crawl up from ground level. Walking through high grass, leaf litter and brushing against bushes and shrubs are all prime ways to invite these unwanted hitchhikers.

Our dogs can also get lyme disease. Make sure they’re protected, too.

Hurricane seasonAs you probably already know, June 1 marked the official beginning to our hurricane season.

All boaters should also know that the most effective preparation you can carry out for any really bad storms coming is to remove your boat from the water and store her well ashore and beyond any possible storm surge.

Over the past few years, the Boat Owners Association of the United States has also discovered that tying a boat stored out of water firmly down to the ground gives you the absolute best chance for the least amount of damage should a really big blow come your way.

Deck cleats that are either embedded into a concrete pad or deeply screwed in the Earth with helical anchors is how to do it.

Safe boating camp for kids

The Sailing Center Chesapeake, in conjunction with St. Mary’s College of Maryland, has openings for two free week-long safe boating camps this summer.

They will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. July 23 to 27 and Aug. 6 to 10 for students who have completed sixth- to eighth-grade during the 2012 school year.

All potential campers must pass a swimming test on their first day of camp.

Besides getting an official Maryland Boating Safety Education Certificate through the normal classroom activities, campers will also be getting out on the water and properly instructed on how to safely run a motor boat, rig and operate a sailboat, paddle a canoe and kayak and even recover from a capsized boat.

The camp will be headquartered within the Sailing Center Chesapeake at Tall Timbers Marina.

Although the camp itself is free of any tuition it is sponsored by a Spirit of America grant from the U.S. Coast Guard there is a $20 application fee.

For more information, call Brenda Clark at 240-298-2659 or Guy Barbato at 240-538-4577.

Poachers bewareMaryland now has a new law on the books that should improve the enforcement of wildlife laws and deter wildlife poaching by significantly increasing accountability.

If convicted, the courts and Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources may now revoke hunting privileges for a wildlife poacher for up to five years.

“Maryland sportsmen have no tolerance for those who violate our wildlife laws,” said David Sutherland, chair of the Maryland Legislative Sportsmen’s Foundation.

These people who break our wildlife laws are not sportsmen and we shouldn’t even call them hunters. They are more properly referred to as criminals, and they absolutely deserve a harsh and unforgiving consequence for their illegal actions.

zbasser@aol.com