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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


April 5, 2003 - Issue 84


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Coyote Kills a Giant


Wiley E. CoyoteCoyote was walking one day when he met Old Woman.

She greeted him and asked where he was headed.

"Just roaming around," said Coyote.

"You better stop going that way, or you'll meet a giant who kills everybody."

"Oh, giants don't frighten me," said Coyote (who had never met one). "I always kill them. I'll fight this one too, and make an end of him."

"He's bigger and closer than you think," said Old Woman.

"I don't care," said Coyote, deciding that a giant would be about as big as a bull moose and calculating that he could kill one easily.

So Coyote said good-bye to Old Woman and went ahead, whistling a tune. On his way he saw a large fallen branch that looked like a club. Picking it up, he said to himself, "I'll hit the giant over the head with this. It's big enough and heavy enough to kill him." He walked on and came to a huge cave right in the middle of the path. Whistling merrily, he went in.

CoyoteSuddenly Coyote met a woman who was crawling along on the ground.

"What's the matter?" he asked.

"I'm starving," she said, "and too weak to walk. What are you doing with that stick?"

"I'm going to kill the giant with it," said Coyote, and he asked if she knew where he was hiding.

Feeble as she was, the woman laughed. "You're already in the giant's belly."

"How can I be in his belly?" asked Coyote. "I haven't even met him."

"You probably thought it was a cave when you walked into his mouth," the woman said, and sighed. "It's easy to walk in, but nobody ever walks out. This giant is so big you can't take him in with your eyes. His belly fills a whole valley."

Coyote threw his stick away and kept on walking. What else could he do?

Soon he came across some more people lying around half dead. "Are you sick?" he asked.

"No," they said, "just starving to death. We're trapped inside the giant."

"You're foolish," said Coyote. "If we're really inside this giant, then the cave walls must be the inside of his stomach. We can just cut some meat and fat from him."

"We never thought of that," they said.

Wiley E. Coyote"You're not as smart as I am," said Coyote.

Coyote took his hunting knife and started cutting chunks out of the cave walls. As he had guessed, they were indeed the giant's fat and meat, and he used it to feed the starving people. He even went back and gave some meat to the woman he had met first. Then all the people imprisoned in the giant's belly started to feel stronger and happier, but not completely happy. "You've fed us," they said, "and thanks. But how are we going to get out of here?"

"Don't worry," said Coyote. "I'll kill the giant by stabbing him in the heart. Where is his heart? It must be around here someplace."

"Look at the volcano puffing and beating over there," someone said. "Maybe it's the heart."

"So it is, friend," said Coyote, and began to cut at this mountain.

Then the giant spoke up. "Is that you, Coyote? I've heard of you. Stop this stabbing and cutting and let me alone. You can leave through my mouth; I'll open it for you."

"I'll leave, but not quite yet," said Coyote, hacking at the heart. He told the others to get ready. "As soon as I have him in his death throes, there will be an earthquake. He'll open his jaw to take a last breath, and then his mouth will close forever. So be ready to run out fast!"

Coyote cut a deep hole in the giant's heart, and lava started to flow out. It was the giant's blood. The giant groaned, and the ground under the people's feet trembled.

Tick"Quick, now!" shouted Coyote. The giant's mouth opened and they all ran out. The last one was the wood tick. The giant's teeth were closing on him, but Coyote managed to pull him through at the last moment.

"Look at me," cried the wood tick, "I'm all flat!"

"It happened when I pulled you through," said Coyote. "You'll always be flat from now on. Be glad you're alive."

"I guess I'll get used to it," said the wood tick, and he did.

Print and Color Your Own Tick Picture

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Black-Legged TickBeing filled with the passion for the outdoors, frontier lovers spend a great deal of time deep in the forest or marching through grasslands; both are prime habitats of one of the most dreaded outdoor pests...

Ticks are very adaptive creatures; found in nearly every country in the world, able to survive extreme starvation (some species up to 16 years), and having a life expectancy of up to 21 years for some. There are over 300 different species of ticks known, and they are all parasitic. Hosts can range from plants, insects and crustaceans to dogs, deer, and even humans.

Ticks transmit the greatest variety of diseases, second only to mosquitoes, by serving as a vector for viruses, bacteria and protozoans. When ticks are found on humans, they carry with them a fear of disease such as: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Colorado Tick Fever, Tularemia, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis and of course, Lyme disease. The highest incident of tick related diseases occur between May and September, the warm months when ticks are most active. In order to protect yourself and family during these months, this article will describe ticks, the diseases they carry and their symptoms, and ways to help prevent being bitten by ticks. Keep in mind this article is to help inform you, and should NOT be taken as medical advice. If symptoms appear following a tick bite, see a physician right away.

Natural History
Brown Dog TickTicks are eight-legged relatives of spiders and scorpions. They are all external parasites which undergo a life cycle in stages, called instars, they begin as one of up to 18,000 eggs which hatches into a six-legged larvae. The larvae will attach itself to a host, feed, and then molt into an eight-legged nymph, which may molt up to five times (depending on species) before becoming an adult. This entire cycle may be as short as six weeks or may take up to three years to complete depending on species and how often it can locate a host to feed on. Some ticks are one-host ticks and can complete the entire life cycle on one host, the likelihood of this passing a disease is small, although still possible. The two-host, three-host, or many-host ticks provide a greater threat as they feast on different hosts at different stages in their life. This increases the chances of passing a disease from one host to the next.

Lyme Disease
Lyme disease has received a great amount of attention since it was first reported in 1975. Since then it has become the most reported arthropod borne disease in the United States. Despite the horrible reputation of Lyme disease there have been only a few fatalities. Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia bugdorferi, and it can only be passed to the host if the tick is embedded into the skin for a day or two. This means that very few bites will result in the disease. Lyme disease is most commonly carried by the black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick and also by the lone star tick. Most cases of the disease have been reported in the northeast, the Pacific coast, and the upper mid-northwest, all of which are good deer locations. Symptoms usually appear after a few days and can occur up to a month later. The most typical symptom is a round “bulls eye” shaped rash, which will expand outward in a circular manner. This can be accompanied by fever, headaches, malaise, stiff neck and joint pain. If untreated, the disease can cause severe irreversible nervous and cardiovascular disorders. If treated quickly, the disease can be stopped with some simple antibiotics from the doctor. However, this treatment is not a vaccination and one is capable of getting Lyme disease again.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Wood TickRocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) occurs throughout the continental United States. It is caused by a rickettsiae which multiplies in the cells which line blood vessels. It is the bursting of the cells which can cause such symptoms as a rash (which may not appear until six days later), headache, delirium and if left untreated can ultimately cause heart failure, renal failure, and neurologic disorders. The disease usually appears about two to eight days after the tick bite and is associated with a fever of about 105 degrees. It is commonly carried by the wood tick, the dog tick, and the lone star tick. Treatment usually involves aggressive antibiotic therapy. RMSF carries a mortality rate of five to seven percent and most fatalities occur in patients which are not diagnosed until the second week of illness.

Tularemia (Rabbit of Deer-Fly Fever)
Tularemia is an infection caused by the bacteria Francisella tularensis. It was identified in 1911, and is usually passed by ticks or by handling contaminated meat (usually rabbits). The disease can be found everywhere in the U.S., but tick bites are the cause of most of the cases in the midwest and the east. The bacteria can be carried by the lone star, Pacific coast, American dog, western and common black-legged tick as well as horseflies. The bacteria is capable of entering the body by the mouth, nose, eyes, or even through the skin. Symptoms of the disease can occur from one to ten days after infection, but effects are usually seen in two to four days. Symptoms of the disease include fever (103-104 degrees), fatigue, chills, and headache. If the organism penetrates the skin, usually an ulcer will develop at the sight of entry. If the organism is inhaled, pneumonia may appear, which will be evident in an X-ray. The disease is treated with an antibiotic, if left untreated, the disease has a five percent mortality rate.

Babesiosis was first diagnosed in 1969 in Massachusetts. It is caused by a protozoan, Babesia, which parasites red blood cells. It is transmitted by the black-legged tick and by contact with contaminated blood. It is most common in the northeast, but cases have also been reported in Wisconsin. Symptoms include fatigue, chills, fever, muscle and joint pain. The disease is sometimes fatal, especially in patients lacking a spleen; however, it is a rare disease, contributing to only a few hundred cases in the last 20 years.

Colorado Tick Fever (Mountain Tick Fever or American Mountain Fever)
Colorado tick fever occurs in the mountainous western states and has about 200-300 cases reported each year. It is a viral disease (which means antibiotics are not effective) and lasts about a week. Due to its self limiting nature it very rarely causes death. It is chiefly spread by the Rocky Mountain wood tick. Symptoms occur suddenly after an incubation of three to six days, and consist of fever, headache, chills, muscle pain, and sometimes a rash.

Ehrlichiosis is caused by a bacteria that is often found in the same ticks that transmit Lyme disease. The diseases can occur simultaneously, so tests for both should be done if infection is suspected. Most cases occur in the South Central and Southeastern United States. Symptoms have a more sudden onset than those of Lyme disease. They include fever, vomiting, muscle aches, chills, anemia, and a decrease in all types of blood cells. The disease is not as common as Lyme disease, but is deadlier. It is usually treated with antibiotics.

Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever
Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever is caused by the bacteria Borrelia, which is related to the causative agent of Lyme disease. It is transmitted by soft ticks and occurs most often in the western United States. The fever is most distinguished by reoccurring periods of fever, which goes on for about two to nine days. Other symptoms include chills, headache, muscle and joint pain. It may be difficult to identify the diseases by the presence of a tick, because soft ticks quickly fall off the host after they have eaten.

Of course the best means of preventing these diseases is simply not to get bit. While this may seem an unlikely idea, there are ways of helping to avoid the bite of ticks.

When walking in areas likely to have ticks, wear long pants and tuck them into your socks. This prevents ticks from crawling inside your pants where they won’t be noticed.

Wear light clothes so you can easily spot a crawling tick.

After an outing, check your entire body, especially your scalp for any unwanted visitors.

If a tick is found, remove it by using tweezers, and gently, but steadily pull until the tick releases its grip. Do NOT jerk the tick or burn it with a match. Its head may break off inside your skin and become infected. You may want to save the tick in a small bottle for a few weeks in case symptoms develop. Tests can be done on it to assist with the diagnosis.

Tick Descriptions
Black-Legged Tick (Ixodes Scupularis) — see picture #1
The black-legged tick is also known as the deer tick and can be easily identified by the black legs and the long mouth parts.

Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) — see picture #2
The brown dog tick is also known as the kennel tick; and is the most widespread species of tick, covering most of North America. The tick is all brown with spurs at the base of the head.

Wood Tick (Dermacentor andersoni) — see picture #3
The wood tick is found throughout most of the United States west of the Great Plains. The complete life cycle can take from a year to three years to complete.

Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum)
The Lone Star tick is dark brown in color and can be easily identified by the silver spot at the middle of the back. The males may have more than one spot. The Lone Star tick is found in the southern United States and into Mexico.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

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