Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.
8:30 AM Wednesday, June 15, 2005: Last
summer, Charles Balducci of Merrill Lynch honeymooned in Kenya and Seychelles.
By the time he got back he could barely breath, he was running a 105 temperature
and his resting heart rate was 26. He was dieing (or is it spelled dying?).
His doctors told him he had some hideous African disease or maybe meningitis.
In fact he had been bitten by a home-grown, United States deer tick just before
he left. . Once his doctors eventually figured out he had Lyme
Disease, they gave him a month of strong antibiotics (Rocephin) injected. The
story ends happily. He's cured.
into my second tick bite. The good news: I have no symptoms. The bad news, many
readers of this column are sending me gruesome stories. Hence, my imagination
is running amuck and my fear factor is off the chart. And, with justification,
since this one is so hard to nail down.
+ You can get bitten and not know it, i.e. you may never find the offending
tick and the circular rash may never appear
+ Most doctors are not Lyme-literate, so they'll happily misdiagnose your problems,
screw up your treatment and prolong your agony.
+ Some doctors prescribe antibiotics instantly to patients complaining of tick
bites. This dosage may not be enough to cure the disease, but may be enough
to screw up the results on a later blood test. (See below.)
+ If you pull out a tick, the only way to know immediately if you're
a risk is to test the tick -- not your blood. You have to wait six weeks
before your doctor can order a Lyme-Titer test of your blood. That's the time
it takes your blood to produce Lyme antibodies -- the presence of which will
tell if you have Lyme Disease.
+ There's much wrong information about how to remove a tick off your body. Do
not smother it in petroleum jelly, nail polish -- as my first aid kit
from Johnson and Johnson recommends. The tick has enough oxygen to its nasty
fine-point tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Gently
pull the thing straight out. Place the tick in a small vial. Have the tick identified/tested
by a lab, your local health department or veterinarian. Wash your hands, disinfect
the tweezers, and the bite site. Do not prick, crush or burn the tick as it
may release its nasty infected fluids.
around. Everyone and their uncle seems to have Lyme
Disease -- some people have had it several times. Lyme disease is the fastest
growing infectious illness in the United States, growing at five times the rate
of AIDS and HIV. Lyme disease has been reported in 49 states, every continent
and nearly every area including Canada and the Caribbean. No one is immune to
I hate to bother
you with this stuff. But the summer is beginning. Many of you will be heading
to the country to enjoy bucolic bliss. Know that beneath the serenity lurks
a tiny threat waiting to mess up your vacation and your life. Read the following.
File it away in your overstuffed brain. Perfect health is the perfect investment.
This is the common
rash. About 25% of people bitten by Lyme ticks don't get it.
This is what ticks look like. Only the top row -- the smallest ticks -- can
give you Lyme Disease. It's hard to identify a tick you've pulled off your body.
Keep the tick. Send it to a lab and get it tested. I once pulled off a tick
that was alive. I'm guessing it's easier to test a live tick than a dead one.
The American Lyme
Disease Foundation says "Studies have shown that an infected tick normally
cannot begin transmitting the spirochete until it has been attached to its host
36-48 hours; the best line of defense against LD, therefore, is to examine
yourself at least once daily and remove any ticks before they become engorged
(swollen) with blood. Generally, if you discover a deer tick attached to your
skin that has not yet become engorged, it has not been there long enough to
transmit the LD spirochete."
That sounds comforting.
But the Foundation goes on "Nevertheless, it is advisable to be alert in
case any symptoms do appear; a red rash (especially surrounding the tick bite),
flu-like symptoms, or joint pains in the first month following any deer tick
bite could signal the onset of LD."
The operative word is "normally." In other words, you may be
instantly infected with one quick bite.
Lyme disease is
a multi-system disease which can affect virtually every tissue and every organ
of the human body. Symptoms of Lyme disease can range widely and include migraines,
paralysis, joint pain, cardiac trouble, overall malaise and even death. Many
physicians misdiagnose the disease for other illnesses since the symptoms often
mirror other medical problems such as Multiple Sclerosis, Arthritis, Chronic
Fatigue Syndrome, Lupus or Alzheimer's disease. From infants to the elderly,
no one is immune to Lyme disease.
(courtesy the American Lyme Disease Foundation)
The early symptoms of LD can be mild and easily overlooked. People who are aware
of the risk of LD in their communities and who don't ignore the sometimes subtle
early symptoms are most likely to seek medical attention and treatment early
enough to be assured of a full recovery. The first symptom is usually an expanding
rash (called erythema migrans, or EM, in medical terms) which is thought to
occur in 80% to 90% of all LD cases. An EM rash generally has the following
o Usually (but
not always) radiates from the site of the tickbite
o Appears either as a solid red expanding rash or blotch, OR a central spot
surrounded by clear skin that is in turn ringed by an expanding red rash (looks
like a bull's-eye)
o Appears an average of 1 to 2 weeks (range = 3 to 30 days) after disease transmission
o Has an average diameter of 5 to 6 inches (range = 2 inches to 2 feet)
o Persists for about 3 to 5 weeks
o May or may not be warm to the touch
o Is usually not painful or itchy
Around the time
the rash appears, other symptoms such as joint pains, chills, fever, and fatigue
are common, but they may not seem serious enough to require medical attention.
These symptoms may be brief, only to recur as a broader spectrum of symptoms
as the disease progresses. As the LD spirochete continues disseminating through
the body, a number of other symptoms including severe fatigue, a stiff, aching
neck, and peripheral nervous system (PNS) involvement such as tingling or numbness
in the extremities or facial palsy (paralysis) can occur.
The more severe,
potentially debilitating symptoms of later-stage LD may occur weeks, months,
or, in a few cases, years after a tick bite. These can include severe headaches,
painful arthritis and swelling of joints, cardiac abnormalities, and central
nervous system (CNS) involvement leading to cognitive (mental) disorders.
Yes, you can die from Lyme Disease.
treatment of LD (within the first few weeks after initial infection) is straightforward
and almost always results in a full cure. Treatment begun after the first three
weeks will also likely provide a cure, but the cure rate decreases the longer
treatment is delayed.
amoxicillin and ceftin are the three oral antibiotics most highly recommended
for treatment of all but a few symptoms of LD. A recent study of Lyme arthritis
in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that a four-week course of
oral doxycycline is just as effective in treating late LD, and much less expensive,
than a similar course of intravenous Ceftriaxone (Rocephin) unless neurological
or severe cardiac abnormalities are present. If these symptoms are present,
the study recommends immediate intravenous (IV) treatment.
The Lyme Titer
There are several blood tests for Lyme Disease and they can be very difficult
to interpret. The first test is a Lyme titer which looks for antibodies in the
blood. These antibodies can mean that you have a current or past infection.
The results can be positive, negative or equivocal, (which means borderline).
An equivocal result should be repeated in two to four weeks to see if there
is any change. Since antibodies to other infections may look similar to Lyme
Disease antibodies a false positive result may occur. False
negative results may occur under the following conditions:
* The test may
have been done before the body has had a chance to make antibodies.
* Antibiotics taken in the early stage of the disease may prevent a person from
ever making antibodies.
* If the test is taken after a course of antibiotics there may be a decrease
in the level of antibodies present.
There can be no
comparison from one test to a repeat test because the lab performs these tests
against a control which changes from batch to batch. Therefore,
you cannot see if the titers are rising or not. The only way they can be compared
is if the same lab froze one of the samples and then ran both samples in the
same batch. A Lyme titer may remain positive for a long time even after antibiotic
therapy has been completed and this does not mean there is still active disease.
How to prevent
You can minimize your chances of getting a tick bite:
* Wear a long sleeve shirt and long pants and tuck pant legs into your socks
* Wear light shaded clothing as it makes it easier to spot a tick, although
they are as tiny as the size of a poppy seed when in the "nymph" or
* Use an insect repellent containing the chemical DEET or Permethrin.
* Inspect yourself and your children once you come back inside. Remove any ticks
* Wear long sleeves and long pants tucked into socks when going into wooded
or grassy areas.
* Put clothing including jackets and coats in clothes dryer for thirty minutes
to kill ticks.
* Use sprays and dips containing permethrins and pyrethrins on dogs, cats and
horses to kill deer ticks.
* Use prescription strength tick collars obtained from a veterinarian on your
Now you know more than 99% of doctors.
are interest rates going?
George Friedlander is the bond whiz at Citicorp's
Smith Barney. I recommend him. Today at 4 PM he has a conference call. Number
is 1-888-769-8517. Password is Friedlander
happens in the dark closet:
A woman takes a lover home during the day while her husband is at
Her 9-year old
son, Johnny, comes home unexpectedly, sees them and hides in the bedroom closet
Then the woman's
husband came home a moment later.
The woman puts
her lover in the closet, not realizing that Johnny is in there already.
Johnny says, "Dark
The man says, "Yes, it is."
Johnny - "I have a baseball."
Man - "That's nice."
Johnny - "Want to buy it?"
Man - "No, thanks."
Johnny - "My dad's outside."
Man - "OK, how much?"
Johnny - "$150."
Man - "Sold."
A few weeks later, Johnny and the lover again find themselves in the closet
Johnny - "Dark
Man - "Yes, it is."
Johnny - "I have a Wilson fielders glove."
The lover, remembering the last time, asks Johnny, "How much?"
Man - "Highway robbery. Sold."
A few days later,
the father says to Johnny, "Grab your glove, let's go outside and have
a game of catch.
Johnny says, "I
can't, I sold both my ball and my glove."
The father asks,
"How much did you sell them for?"
The father says,
"That's terrible, overcharging your friends like that. That is far more
than those two things cost. I'm going to take you to church and make you confess
They go to the
church. The father makes Johnny sit in the confession booth and he closes the
Johnny says, "Dark
The priest says,
"Don't start that shit again, pal, you're in my closet now."
This column is about my personal search for the perfect investment. I don't
give investment advice. For that you have to be registered with regulatory authorities,
which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor. I make my daily column -- Monday
through Friday -- freely available for three reasons: Writing is good for sorting
things out in my brain. Second, the column is research for a book I'm writing
called "In Search of the Perfect Investment." Third, I encourage
my readers to send me their ideas, concerns and experiences. That way we can
all learn together. My email address is .
You can't click on my email address. You have to re-type it . This protects
me from software scanning the Internet for email addresses to spam. I have no
role in choosing the Google ads. Thus I cannot endorse any, though some look
mighty interesting. If you click on a link, Google may send me money. That money
will help pay Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense,
here and here.