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Vermin du jour

August 20, 2014

It has been a summer of pests.

In June, I inaugurated the season by contracting Lyme disease. I suspect this occurred on a seemingly innocent walk to check out the beaver lodge under construction at a nearby pond. It was my good luck, however, to discover the deer tick rooted in my leg. I yanked it out but not soon enough; I developed the telling “bulls-eye rash” of tick- borne Lyme disease a week later.

We have also begun “cooking the books”—literally—by heating any second-hand books I bring home in a 170-degree oven for an hour to ward off bedbugs. My niece who lives in New Jersey alerted us to this practice. She bakes all her library books. It seems bedbugs can infest the spines of books and consequently come into your home. I shudder to think what it would be like to get bedbugs in this old lath and plaster house. Now, my kids notice the oven is on and think a tray of brownies is forthcoming. But no, all hopes are dashed. It’s only the roaster pan filled with a hefty, slightly tattered copy of a biography of Carson McCullers, which I picked up at a sale last week. I’d like to think she would have appreciated this twisted scene.

And to top it off we are recovering from a terror of the lice kind….

If you have or have had school age children in your home, you know exactly what I mean by lice terror. My daughter failed her head check on her first day of summer camp. In tears, she had to join a line of kids waiting for the shampoo and comb-out routine. “This happens every session,” a counselor assured her. She left me waiting with the other upset mothers—all of us starting to notice every little itch. We were happy that the camp, which employs a professional de-lousing company, could handle the situation in-house. Then of course we had to go home and set up our own de-lousing regime. This includes the use of a high-powered magnifying lamp, which my son, from experience, calls “the interrogation lamp.” And wash all the bed sheets, and blankets and afghans. And enclose all my daughter’s pillows and stuffed animals in plastic bags for two weeks. As it turned out, we were clear, but it’s one of those things you can’t take chances with.

I have finished my course of antibiotics prescribed for the Lyme disease and am symptom free. However, I am now more vigilant about checking for ticks. Lyme disease is on the rise in the northeastern U.S. and is said to be spreading further south and westward, according to Infectious Disease News (January 2014 edition).