Lyme Disease Is on the Rise Again

Barbara Thorne, an Entomologist at the University of Maryland, was born and raised in western Pennsylvania.

During her childhood she never heard of or saw any cases of Lyme Disease locally.

However, since her childhood Pennsylvania took a turn for the worst, and western Pennsylvania had become broadly infected with ticks that contained a harmful bacterium.

This bacterium the ticks carried is called Borrelia Burgdorferi, and it can cause Lyme Disease.

Lyme Disease is a serious threat to your health, as if left untreated symptoms can range from fever, fatigue and a rash, to serious damage to the joints, heart and nervous system.

During a recent family reunion, Thorne was bitten by a black-legged tick unknowingly, until eight or nine days later when she noticed something peculiar.

“I noticed a roundish red rash above my waistline and it expanded each day. I was also feeling sick with exhaustion and achiness.”

Once this occurred she talked with her primary care doctor and they diagnosed her with Lyme disease.

She was prescribed a course of antibiotics and after a few months she has improved.

Barbara was fortunate, as not everyone with a Lyme infection develops a rash.

Other symptoms, such as fatigue and aches, overlap with common illnesses; making the diagnosis difficult to do.

Due to this, some people don’t realize they’re infected or misdiagnose themselves and don’t seek medical treatment.

The CDC estimates the actual amount of Lyme disease infections is 10 times higher than the number of reported cases; which is staggering.

Lyle Peterson of the CDC claims that tick-borne diseases have been “steadily going up every year as the diseases expand to new areas around the country.”

Lyme disease accounts for about 80 percent of the tick-borne illnesses in the U.S.; making it the main concern when looking at tick-borne diseases.

Lack of effective surveillance and tracking also plays a factor in this miscounting.

Peterson explains, “People just go to their local doctor to be treated. State health departments have a very difficult time keeping up with the sheer number of cases reported.”

Dr. Paul Fiedler, a clinical pathologist on Yale School of Medicine’s faculty, explains how the way Lyme Disease is diagnosed is also to blame.

“Many of the tests for Lyme disease are negative at the time that patients first visit their doctor.”

Blood tests to detect Lyme disease rely on a person’s immune response, which takes time to react to the bacteria causing this disease.

It takes time, sometimes as long as 10-30 days, for the body to mount a measurable response.

If somebody is tested before the immune system has produced enough antibodies, the result will be a false negative, “And the diagnosis could be missed.”

Thorne advised, “The ticks do tend to climb upward; like they climb up your legs. They often attach where there was a constriction of clothing, like around the waistline.”

Ticks also like to hide in armpits and behind your ears.

If you do find one attached to your body, use a pair of tweezers to grasp the tick very close to the surface of the skin and pull upward with steady pressure.

If you want to avoid a search for insects that are so tiny they can be mistaken for poppy seeds, then it is highly advised to use an EPA registered, IR 3535 Insect Repellent.

(Original Article: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/05/07/607782359/lyme-disease-is-on-the-rise-again-heres-how-to-prevent-it)

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