As a Professional Photographer, it is vital to protect my clients and myself from Ticks. Ticks are known to carry Lyme Disease and Co-Infections that affect over 300,000 people across the United States. My husband, son, and myself all have been diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease within the past year, so I can say this is a devastating disease. Even my two dogs have had Lyme. One dog showed no symptoms but the other cried in pain when we touched her until she was treated. Every person has different symptoms based on your genetics, eating and lifestyle habits. This disease left me disabled and unable to photograph but I continue to #giveback with my blog. May is Lyme Disease Awareness month so I want to #sharemystory because with knowledge, prevention, early detection and proper medical treatment you can advocate for your health.
The trend in the photography community the past few years has shifted from indoor portrait studio photography to outdoor portraits. It is key as a professional photographer to be a professional and responsible business owner. This includes more than just the ability to capture a great smile with a professional camera; it should include contracts and insurance to protect the client and their business. This post will highlight Tick prevention, Create a tick finding process, Understand what type of tick you find, Know the Symptoms of a Tick Borne Illness and Get proper medical care to protect yourself and your clients from getting the devastation of Tick Borne Illnesses from a tick at your next outdoor photo session.
1. Tick Prevention:
First thing is tick prevention. Avoid being photographed in areas that are heavily wooded, have high grass and lots of leaves and stay on the paths. As you have reflect on your favorite locations and researched your clients request I just described the BEST places for photographs! If you have no idea if the area you are in has reported cases of Tick Borne Illness like, Lyme Disease, and have no idea where the ticks may be hiding, the next best thing is prevention by choosing appropriate clothing and tick repellent.
You should help your client plan their clothing and plan your clothing around whatever area you are going to be photographing in, with tick prevention in mind. Ticks are blood feeding external parasites of mammals, birds, and reptiles throughout the world. According to an article written by Larisa Vredevoe, Ph.D, Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis states "Hard ticks seek hosts by an interesting behavior called "questing." Questing ticks crawl up the stems of grass or perch on the edges of leaves on the ground in a typical posture with the front legs extended, especially in response to a host passing by. Certain biochemicals such as carbon dioxide as well as heat and movement serve as stimuli for questing behavior." If you are in a suspected Tick area, or a high Lyme Disease area, wearing shorts or a sun dress are probably a bad idea unless you have a repellent on your body and clothing.
You can purchase tick repellent or make your own repellent to cover your exposed skin and to treat your clothing with products containing peremethrin. If you use furniture and props you also want to treat and inspect them for any ticks so they don't hitched a ride in your car back to your home or studio. You can go to the US EPA website to see which repellent product is right for you by searching for active ingredients. This is a great resource for you to make your own chemical free repellent using natural oil with geranium bourbon essential oil, citronella essential oil, lemon eucalyptus essential oil, or catnip essential oil.
We love the blog Mommypotamus and her DIY natural essential oil tick repellent recipe and
other natural cleaning recipes. See the Tick Repellent Recipe on my Pinterest.
Mommypotamus has a DIY Non-Toxic Cleaning Recipes 50 All-Natural,
Toxin-Free Recipes That Really Work E-Book
The TickEncounter Resource Center website is a huge resource on ticks, prevention, testing and more. Under their prevent page, they highlight a company called insect shield that will treat your clothing. It lasts for up to 70 laundering for a low fee, plus shipping. Insect Shield also has an online store that you can buy from as well, and has items available on Amazon.
2. Tick Finding Process
If you have done everything to prevent a tick you still need to have a process in place during and after your photo session. If you can, immediately change your clothing. Put your clothing in a garbage bag and throw them in the dryer as soon as you get home. The heat from the dryer will kill the ticks. If you keep your clothing on or just toss them in the laundry any surviving ticks will now travel around your home!
You need to check for ticks during and after your session! Ticks may be seen at your feet, legs, hands or anything touching the nearby vegetation. Remember Ticks crawl up so if one tags along it will work its way up your body. Always check for ticks before your session has ended so if you require medical attention you can file a claim for personal injury under your Photography Companies Liability Insurance. I spoke to a rep at PPA and he had not heard of someone filing a claim for a tick bite from a photography session but said that is a claim they would investigate to see if their policy covered it. If you are in a high Lyme or Co Infection area you can add a clause in your contract to release you from liability of a tick bite during your session. This main seem insensitive to include but I can tell you I pay up to $1500 a month out of pocket for a family of three to get treatment for Lyme Disease. If a client wanted to sue you for damages and personal injury, the attorney fees, medical fees and pain and suffering could bankrupt your company or you personally. Their is no "cure" and many suffer unimaginable physically and mental symptoms. The number 1 cause of Death in Lyme Disease Patients is Suicide.
Lyme Literate Doctors might not take your insurance and you may not response to standard treatment, so you may have to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket for testing and treatment. As a professional, we pay for insurance to protect ourselves and clients, so don't feel bad for a second to put in a claim.
4. Understand what type of the Tick you find
If you find a tick you need to properly removed it but DON'T THROW IT AWAY!
You can send a photo to Tickencounter.org to see what type of tick is is and you want to send your tick to them or Igenex to have it tested. Many physicians will not test a tick because the severity of Tick Borne Illnesses is surprising unknown to most physicians, but you can test it on your own. It might seem silly to test the tick but if you test the tick you can be prepared for any diseases it may be carrying. This is vital to ensure you get the proper medical treatment. Depending on your genetic make up and how fast you get treatment, may affect your ability to beat this Lyme and Co-Infections. Many people never get a rash or test positive on current western blot or ELISA testing but have the disease. Ticks are so small that you may never see a tick and there is research to say Lyme Disease and Co-Infections can be transferred through ticks, spiders, mosquitos, mother to child and through blood, so knowing what symptoms to look for is important.
This is key to know what type of illness a particular tick has and also helps researchers keep track of what ticks are in what region. 300,000 is the number of reported Lyme Disease cases, add in the number of unreported cases then add the number of other tick borne illnesses and you can see this is an epidemic in our world. A tick bite it the equivalent of being stuck with a dirty needle! Depending on the region you are in, Ticks transmit bacteria, protozoans, rickettsias and even viruses. Ticks can carry more then just Lyme Disease. They can carry Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Borrelia mayonii, Borrelia miyamotoi, Bourbon virus, Colorado Tick Fever, Heartland virus, Powassan virus (POWV), Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness, Tick Borne Relapsiing Fever (TBRF), Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), 364D Rickettsioses, Alpha-Gal Allergy, Tularemia and Bartonalla (cat scratch fever, tyrench fever and carrion's disease). Many of these require specialized out of pocket labs to confirm due to the current CDC testing due to the complexity of the diseases. A specialist will treat based on symptoms not lab results. This screenshot is from the Dr. Richard Horowitz, a world leader of Lyme Disease, and Allen Richards presentation for the Tick Borne Working Group 5/10/18.
3. Know the Symptoms of Tick Borne Illnesses
No one in my family ever tested positive to the current CDC lab testing, despite finding ticks. We showed clinical symptoms for years and showed positive with advanced testing with a Lyme Literate Doctor. We now have Chronic Lyme (CLD) or Post Treatment Lyme Disease (PTLD) this means that the spirochetes spread throughout our body and have developed medical problems in our brain, central nervous system, muscles & joints, digestion, circulation, reproduction and skin. Symptoms change daily and all three of us have different symptoms. Children may not be able to express how they really feel but symptoms such as sleep disruption and trouble concentrating at school should be considered as reasons to seek treatment. See more on Children with Lyme at Lymedisease.org The CDC reports 300,000 people have diagnosed with Lyme but so many patients like my family are are not in that statistic, which makes me afraid to know the real number of Lyme Patients and tick borne illness sufferers in the US and around the world. You can check out my post on 3 FREE ways you can test for Lyme & Mold symptoms.
There are medical studies linking untreated Lyme Disease to other Auto Immune Diseases including Systemic Arthritis, MS, Chronic Fatigue and even Alzheimer. Take the time to watch Dr. Richard Horowitz M.D. at the 2017 Lyme Conference.
5. Get proper Medical Care
If you find a tick seek treatment immediately! If you remove a Tick keep a daily symptom journal for your Doctor. Monitor your health symptoms even if you never see a Tick or never get a rash. If you have a physician unwilling to test you further, FIND ANOTHER ONE! You have the right to fight for your health. LymeDisease.org states, "The risk of getting Lyme disease is often reflected in risk maps. Some maps show the number of human cases of Lyme disease reported for surveillance. These maps may not accurately reflect risk because only 10% of reportable Lyme cases are currently captured by CDC surveillance. Other risk maps show the number of infected ticks that researchers have collected in a certain area. These maps are often not accurate because many states and counties have done little or no testing of ticks in the area. The best maps of risk may be canine maps. This is because dogs are routinely screened for Lyme disease through a nationwide program as well as the close association of dogs with humans." As you can see Lyme is everywhere affecting animals and humans even with the CDC map being 2 years old!
I am in local and worldwide support group for Lyme Disease and would be happy to provide additional resources, recommended Lyme Literate Doctors and support you any way I can. There are a lot of us in the Lyme Disease Community that have lost faith in the CDC for not advocating for accurate diagnosis and care, so I recommend researching the Tick Borne Working Group to see what is currently being discussed at the Government level regarding Lyme Disease & Tick Borne Illness diagnosis, treatment and more. Read more on The 21st Century Cures Act, Section 2062 and the Tick-Borne Diseases Working Group here:
US Department Health & Human Services - Tick Borne Disease Working Group
Thank you for allowing me to share my story!
Clicks for a Cause
UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Tick Borne Disease Working Group
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