You might be reading this because you Googled something like “what does tick bite fever feel like,” or “how bad is tick bite fever,” or “how do I set my internet search history to automatically clear itself when I die.” I can help you with everything except that last one. I have a friend on standby for that. But before we go any further, tick bite fever IS actually that bad. I was just screwing with you in hopes you’d find your way to this page because you’re starting to come down with tick bite fever and were looking for reassurances that you aren’t in for a hecking bad time. Sorry, my friend. You are.
Since I’ve lived in South Africa, I’ve been charged by enraged elephants and hippos, narrowly escaped an angry mob throwing rocks and trying to set my vehicle on fire, and shared the roads with South African taxi drivers.
But it was a stupid, tiny bug that took me down.
Just over a week ago, I was out in thick KwaZulu-Natal bush with a few friends. And so, apparently, were billions and billions of devil beetles.
When I got home, I noticed a few dozen tiny little pimple-like bites had appeared all over my body. They were itchy, but that was the extent of it.
Until Friday, when I hit the point when all long-suffering wives realise their husbands are coming down with a very slight cold and will complain and moan about it endlessly for several days.
By Saturday morning, I knew I wasn’t going to have to fake it.
You know that feeling you get when your partner sends you a message that says “we need to talk,” and nothing else? Or the moment you realise you’ve accidentally hit “reply all” and told the entire group exactly how you feel about your mindless amoeba of a boss, including your boss? Now combine those and translate them to physical pain and fire it all over your body. That’s how I felt.
Luckily it was the weekend, so I didn’t have to miss any work. All I needed to do was rest and I’d come right.
Except by noon even my male brain pieced together that I should probably get looked over. Just in case.
So I dragged myself to the doctor, more to get validation that I wasn’t actually as good of an actor as it might have appeared than anything else. After looking me over briefly, she decided I had the flu or tick bite fever.
But as I turned, she grabbed my elbow and said “yep- there it is. Tick bite fever.” So that was that. I have tick bite fever.
How could she tell so easily? Apparently ticks leave small little bites. Except for when one has a significant amount of malice and decides to infect you with tick bite fever, in which case the bite swells up, the center turns black, and you end up hating your life.
Anyway, in case you’re here because you actually have symptoms and you think you may have tick bite fever, here’s all you need to know (from someone who you should absolutely never ever take medical advice from):
- Tick bite fever sucks. Don’t get it.
- The best way to prevent it is to a) stay inside always, b) if you’re a nincomboob and decide to go outside, any outdoors store sells tick spray. If you’re not a complete moron, you’ll go buy some and use it.
- If you DO get tick bite fever, symptoms usually appear 4-10 days after the bite (for me it was 6).
- You’ll start feeling tired and a bit achy. If you’ve hit that point…hahahaha- you’re screwed.
- Check all your bites- you’ll probably have more than one. If one of them looks like the photo above, chances are you’ve definitely got tick bite fever.
- Go to the doctor while you still have the energy to drag your sorry ass out of the house, because soon, you won’t. You’ll get a prescription for doxycycline.
- Then go home and wait. You’re done for 1-2 weeks.
- Here’s what you’ve got coming: a general state of exhaustion, an acute ache in every part of your body, headaches, and while this doesn’t seem to be listed everywhere, the absolute inability to warm up.
- The good news is, unlike tick bites in other parts of the world, these ones don’t give you Lyme disease, and there will be no lasting effects.
- While you’ll certainly WANT to die, tick bite fever in South Africa has never killed a single person.
- Milk all the sympathy you can get. For probably the first time in your life, you really deserve it.
So thanks, South Africa, for gifting me with another experience I’ll remember forever. At least I can be super productive and re-watch a bunch of movies I’ve seen a million times.
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