Approximately every 30 years, an infectious disease epidemic sweeps modern civilization: AIDS, polio, diptheria, tuberculosis, smallpox, yellow fever, malaria.
Medicine is initially unprepared and millions of lives are lost or compromised. Then science rallies, treatments or vaccines are discovered, the epidemic is quelled and life begins to stabilize for mankind.
Sadly, we are waking up to the reality that migratory birds have introduced infected ticks of every variety to all regions of the United States and the world. In 2016, Lyme Disease is not just a East coast illness; it is rampant in many areas, from the deep South, to the Great Lakes, the Pacific northwest, Canada, Scandinavia, and over 89 countries of the world.
Statistics coming from ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Disease Society) are indicating that Lyme disease is the infectious disease epidemic of the 21st century and we do not have a vaccine or a frank effective treatment regime for chronic or misdiagnosed cases.
Once considered a two-week infectious illness transmitted by a bite from the tiny deer tick, 40 years of clinical discovery has illuminated that Lyme disease is a far more complex condition. The organism is a spirochete corkscrew-shaped bacteria, akin to syphilis, that quickly burrows its way from the bloodstream into connective tissues, joints, muscle fascia, organs, glands, and eventually to the spinal fluid, brain, and spinal nerves.
The Center for Disease Control acknowledges between 300,000-500,000 cases of Lyme Disease are contracted annually in the United States, but a mere 10% are properly diagnosed in the early weeks of an infection, due to an outdated generic ELISA test the typical physician uses that produces a 70% false negative finding. The remainder of cases are often misconstrued as autoimmune illnesses or mental disorders, such as Lupus, MS, fibromyalgia, CFS, RA, ALS, or others.
Borrelia burgdorferi is a slow-reproducing bacteria – six weeks – versus staphococcus or streptococcus, meaning antibody production is late to manifest via blood testing, yet symptoms are readily surfacing.
Muscle and joint pains, stiff neck, headaches, pronounced fatigue, brain fog, depression and even a bull’s eye skin rash, confuse individuals and physicians into believing a rogue virus or maybe a ‘spider bite’ could have induced the malingering symptoms.
Most often, if not treated with six weeks of tetracycline antibiotics immediately, an individual is left with a constellation of odd symptoms in multiple bodily systems, lumbering along trying to find resolution, typically with little success.
The best steps you can take are awareness, prevention, and early diagnosis by a Lyme literate physician. Follow these tips to minimize Lyme disease risk:
- Avoid all areas of tall grasses, forest underbrush, beach dune grass, overgrown foliage.
- Keep your grass cut short and woodpiles away from the yard or patios.
- Do not feed wildlife, and eliminate bird feeders. It is important to deter rodents, birds, mammals of any type, as they are ‘tick taxis’ potentially dropping them into your habitat.
- Wear light-colored long sleeve and full leg clothing when gardening, hiking, fishing, camping, and even running or golfing. Spray kids with permithrin tick repellant before soccer practice!
- After ALL outdoor activities, remove all your clothing, including socks and underwear, and run them for 30 minutes on HOT heat in the dryer, as high temperatures will kill and shrivel ticks, since they thrive in moisture. Do a full-body scan for any potential ticks, especially the warm areas of groin, neck, armpits, back of knees. Brush your hair and shower using a washcloth or loofah pad.
- Pets can carry ticks! Do not let your pets sleep in your bed. Brush them daily outside and keep them protected with a tick repellant such as Vectra or Frontline. Pets are notorious for carrying ticks into the house, as they brush up against the foliage ticks reside in. Give your dog the LymeVax immunization annual shot.
If you think you may have Lyme disease, insist upon the IgeneX Labs initial Lyme panel which is 4 tests combined, including the more accurate Western Blot test and borrelia b. DNA fragment. The fastest accuracy testing is from Global Lyme Diagnostics in North Carolina, with a state of the art antigen screening. Do not accept a negative on an ELISA test. Seek assistance from ILADS.com and LymeDisease.org.
With the warm weather upon us, we are in peak tick hatch out season. Following these prevention tips will help keep you pro-active and aware.
Katina is teaching with neurologist Dr. Jodie Dashore, at The Rowe Center, Rowe, MA, 10/13-15/17. http://rowecenter.org/wp/events/tick-action-getting-serious-recovery-lyme-disease/
Stay well and get well with Dr. Jodie and Katina.