BWCA Beware of leeches! Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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   Listening Point - General Discussion
      Beware of leeches!     

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woodsandwater
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06/22/2022 07:47AM  
Had to come out of the BW three days early due to a badly infected toe from a leech bite on one of our guys. Took him to the hospital in Grand Marais. The doctor said this is not uncommon. He is on antibiotics and we are on our way home, but had some great walleye and smallmouth fishing while we were there.
 
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Maiingan
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06/22/2022 07:58AM  
Was it a leech or a bloodsucker?
 
woodsandwater
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06/22/2022 09:03AM  
Maiingan: "Was it a leech or a bloodsucker?"

Good question. I had to look bloodsucker up. We believe it was a leech. Thank you for raising the question.
 
MikeinMpls
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06/22/2022 09:09AM  
I wonder if the leech carries the bacteria that infected your tripping partner, or if the wound, however small, inflicted by the leech allowed the introduction of bacteria into the wound.

I'm not expecting an answer, unless someone knows, just curious.

Mike
 
woodsandwater
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06/22/2022 09:19AM  
In our discussion amongst ourselves about this we believe that when he squeezed the leech in trying to remove it he probably squeezed stomach contents including bacteria into the wound.
 
THEGrandRapids
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06/22/2022 09:49AM  
This happened to me 3 years ago. But I believe it was from the weeping wound that was infected from something else. I now do all travel days in wool socks and fly-fishing wading boots. I've had leeches a couple times when they hide under my sandal straps.
 
cyclones30
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06/22/2022 12:30PM  
How long did it take from the time the leech was pulled off till you decided it was bad enough to leave?
 
4keys
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06/22/2022 12:52PM  
Years ago I thought it was just mud under the sandal strap. Turned out to be a leech. I made my husband scrape it off, only to find it left baby leeches behind! Thankfully it happened to me and not my teenage daughter (who wasn’t having a great time anyhow) and other than mild itching, no infection. I really don’t like them,
 
THEGrandRapids
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06/22/2022 01:12PM  
cyclones30: "How long did it take from the time the leech was pulled off till you decided it was bad enough to leave? "

I know you are asking the OP, but for me I had it the day prior to exit. On way home it started to ooze, wasn't healing. I was on antibiotics the next day.
 
06/22/2022 01:44PM  
A little off topic, but does anyone bring antibiotics like amoxicillin in their first aid kits? It might have been helpful in preventing or fighting the infection in this case.
 
LaVirginienne
senior member (52)senior membersenior member
 
06/22/2022 02:59PM  
merlyn: " A little off topic, but does anyone bring antibiotics like amoxicillin in their first aid kits? It might have been helpful in preventing or fighting the infection in this case."

I’m WFR so yes. Important to make sure that peeps finish their antibiotics if they start them!
 
RedLakePaddler
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06/22/2022 08:42PM  
Because of my CLL I carry a prescription of antibiotics. I haven’t used it yet, but it’s there if I need it. Nice to know about the leeches. No more sandals in the BWCA for me!

Carl
 
moosedoggie
distinguished member (166)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/23/2022 05:26AM  
Maiingan: "Was it a leech or a bloodsucker?"

I'll show my ignorance, can someone explain the difference to me?
 
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(14116)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
06/23/2022 06:55AM  
moosedoggie: "Maiingan: "Was it a leech or a bloodsucker?"


I'll show my ignorance, can someone explain the difference to me?"


One size catches me dinner, the other size I’m the dinner.
 
woodsandwater
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06/23/2022 08:35AM  
cyclones30: "How long did it take from the time the leech was pulled off till you decided it was bad enough to leave? "

2 1/2 days
 
deerfoot
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06/23/2022 11:00AM  
merlyn: " A little off topic, but does anyone bring antibiotics like amoxicillin in their first aid kits? It might have been helpful in preventing or fighting the infection in this case."

Due to having hip joint replacement surgery last December, I will be taking amoxicillin with me on all trips. My doctor, an infectious disease specialist, told me I will need to use it for any injuries where I bleed for 2 years post surgery. And I am a bit clumsy and often cut or scrape myself.

Regarding leeches, I have picked them up several times in Canada but never had an infection even though the wounds continued to bleed for awhile after removal. The Albany River seemed to have plenty of them, or at least I picked them up there more than anyplace else.
 
4keys
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06/23/2022 07:41PM  
merlyn: " A little off topic, but does anyone bring antibiotics like amoxicillin in their first aid kits? It might have been helpful in preventing or fighting the infection in this case."

If I have any left from a previous prescription ( I usually forget to take the last couple days of a 10 or 14 day course) I will bring that. At least it’s a start if I need it.

I have tried to get my doctor to give me a prescription for the bw, but she is very reluctant to do so. I have also asked for a general pain killer that is stronger than advil but she definitely won’t do that either. Last year I had shoulder issues start mid trip. I used all the advil and aleve I had with me, and still was in pain.
 
Canoearoo
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06/24/2022 12:16PM  
moosedoggie: "Maiingan: "Was it a leech or a bloodsucker?"


I'll show my ignorance, can someone explain the difference to me?"


Leeches prefer dead things and take a long time to bite a human that is living (think standing in the muck for 5 minutes without moving at all). Blood suckers love living things and will latch on in seconds when given the opportunity.
 
tumblehome
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06/24/2022 06:10PM  
In my younger days I used to sell leaches wholesale. I sold thousands of pounds in the spring and summer.

Black leeches we use for fishing generally are not an issue for humans.
Then there are the long, slimy leaches that feel like a wet noodle, those are not an issue.

The leeches you should be concerned about were coined diamond backs. The female will hold a hundred tiny baby leeches on her belly and when she finds a host, they are all released through a chemical reaction. Soon you have 100 tiny leeches on you that only become visible after they start to suck blood. The diamond back leech releases an anti-coagulant to help the blood flow which is why sometimes you bleed profusely after pulling a leech of you.

The anticoagulant is full of bacteria. I never got sick from a leech bite and I don’t think it’s real common.

Tom
 
06/24/2022 09:24PM  
I have heard that you won’t get infection from the leach. But you definitely can get infection from the open store it can leave.
I have read that they still use leeches sometimes to clean the blood out of a bruise.
Any medical expert can weigh in on the subject.
 
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