Ticks are arriving sooner this summer, according to a May 25 article published on the Fox News Health website, which talks about Lyme disease and debates if the condition can be chronic.
“The problem is that ticks are now coming out even three weeks earlier with these global warming changes,” the article states. “So we have patients now coming in with tick bites, people are moving into urban areas, they’re getting these bites, the nymphs are very small, you may not see them … the ticks are containing not just Lyme disease, but other bacteria [including] parasites like babesia, which is a malaria-like illness. So with one tick bite, you can get multiple organisms all at the same time, and many people get chronically ill from this.”
There are a lot of unknowns about Lyme disease and misdiagnoses, according to the Prevention article, “7 things you need to know about Lyme disease and your chances of getting it.” Not every patient, for instance, gets the classic bull’s eye rash. The rash is considered a “hallmark symptom,” but up to 50% of people don’t ever get the rash, said Samuel M. Shor, MD, president of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society, in the Prevention article. And others may not notice the rash, Shor said in the article.
The CDC estimates about 300,000 people are infected with the disease each year, even though the number of reported cases is somewhere around 30,000. “Using medical claims data, we estimated that 329,000 LD cases occur annually in the United States, which emphasizes the substantial public health effect of this disease,” researchers wrote in a CDC national survey from September 2015. “This estimate is consistent with findings from a recent study of diagnostic laboratories that yielded an estimate of 288,000 infections among patients for whom a laboratory specimen was submitted in 2008.”
Meanwhile, a Web MD article published May 20 answers why there are a rising number of Lyme disease cases. CDC epidemiologist Paul Mead, MD, chief of epidemiology and surveillance activity for the Bacterial Diseases Branch, was quoted in the Web MD article and said, “there’s been a steady, gradual increase in cases of the disease and the areas where the ticks live. “It’s like a bomb going off; it’s spreading in all directions.”
He went on to say that, “a worldwide warming trend has made more northern areas like Canada, Maine and Minnesota hospitable to ticks.” But the number of deer — which carry the ticks — probably plays a bigger role. “Land use, forestry growth and how many people develop homes in areas with large deer populations are among the factors driving this long-term trend.”
To assist patients in communicating their symptoms to their healthcare providers, LymeDisease.org offers a symptom checklist. Patients can receive a report that can be printed and brought to their physician’s office.
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To find out more about Lyme disease, read the CE module, “Lyme disease — It’ll ‘Tick’ you off.”