Learn about Lyme disease

For those of you out there who enjoy feeding and watching deer, Wildlife Unlimited of Dickinson County has a program for you.

Few can argue that deer are not beautiful, gentle creatures, but deer are also known to help spread disease – Lyme disease. More accurately, deer ticks – also known as blacklegged ticks – are commonly found on deer and these blood-sucking pests are potential carriers of Lyme disease.

Lyme disease can be dangerous to humans, and area residents who frequent deer areas should be aware of the risks involved.

To help, Wildlife Unlimited of Dickinson County is sponsoring a two-hour public forum on Lyme disease beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 29, at Bay West College in Iron Mountain.

Lyme disease is now the most common tick-borne disease in the Northern Hemisphere, and has become increasingly prevalent in this area in recent years, Wildlife Unlimited officials said.

Topics to be covered include the causes, prevention, symptoms and treatment of Lyme disease, plus information correcting public misconceptions of the disease.

Wildlife Unlimited has invited three speakers to be part of the program, all of whom will offer knowledgeable and interesting perspectives on Lyme disease, Wildlife Unlimited officials said.

The featured speakers will be Tom Grier of Minnesota, Rebecca Keith of Minong, Wis., and Dr. Jim Nicolas of Iron Mountain.

Grier is an accomplished microbiologist who has researched Lyme disease for more than 20 years.

Having suffered from crippling Lyme encephalitis a generation ago, Grier has devoted his career to the study of Lyme disease and its potentially devastating impact upon the human brain.

He earned an undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry from the University of Minnesota, a graduate degree in Immunology and Microbiology from the University of Minnesota Duluth School of Medicine and completed postgraduate study in biochemistry at the University of Washington.

He has served as the chief administrator of a number of studies investigating Lyme disease and authored the Lyme Disease Survival Manual in 1995.

Grier will be followed by Rebecca Keith, RN, who is a family nurse practitioner. Keith has also devoted her career of 30-plus years to the study and treatment of Lyme disease. She is a graduate of the nursing school at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, and has treated more than 1,000 Lyme disease patients in northern Wisconsin in the past five years.

She will discuss treatment options for Lyme disease and answer questions attendees may have about the disease.

Dr. Nicolas is the founder and owner of the Iron Mountain Animal Hospital. A graduate of Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and a practicing veterinarian for more than 37 years, Dr. Nicolas and his staff have treated hundreds of cases of Lyme disease during the past decade, the great majority of which have infected pet dogs in the area.

He will offer some interesting data regarding the growing infestation of deer ticks and the proportionate increase in Lyme disease cases in his practice.

“As longtime advocates of local wildlife and habitat improvement, Wildlife Unlimited hopes that we may be able to help promote a better understanding of Lyme disease in our area.” said Elaine Pierce, president of Wildlife Unlimited of Dickinson County. “Because so many of our fellow residents work and play in the outdoors, we all have a lot at stake to be better informed. For this reason, we hope we have a great turnout on the 29th.”