Susan Cook asked in her letter Jan. 2 (“What is Maine doing to track deadly virus?”) what the state is doing to track the Powassan virus, which caused the death of Marilyn Ruth Snow (“Researchers concerned by virus that killed well-known Maine artist,” Dec. 25).

Deer ticks carry a strain of this virus. Lyme disease, a major health concern in Maine, is also carried by deer ticks. What is being done about the shortage of the antibiotic doxycycline used to treat Lyme and also used as prophylaxis?

Fulfilling a dream, seven months ago I moved to Maine from Maryland where, since 2008, I had been prescribed a few capsules of doxycycline to have on hand should I find a deer tick that had been attached less than approximately 72 hours. As early as July 12, 2001, the New England Journal of Medicine published “Prophylaxis with single-dose doxycycline for the prevention of Lyme disease after an Ixodes scapularis tick bite.”

Arriving at our new home in South Thomaston, the town where Snow also lived, alarmed by the number of deer ticks found on my clothes after being in our yard, last June I approached a local physician requesting a small amount of doxycycline for Lyme disease prevention. I was refused and told there is a shortage of doxycycline. An Internet search revealed this is indeed true.

Many people have never heard of Lyme prophylaxis, some people can’t distinguish between a deer tick and other varieties, many don’t know they have been bitten. Doxycycline doesn’t completely remove the risk of Lyme, but it significantly reduces it.

Some physicians may disagree with Lyme prophylaxis, but I think an educated public should have that option. I exhort Mainers to write their senators about the doxycycline shortage issue, which is part of an overall shortage of antibiotics. This is a very serious public health issue.

Judith Church Tydings

South Thomaston