To the Editor:
May is Lyme Awareness Month. Borreliosis (more commonly known as Lyme) is the greatest vector borne disease, with over 300,000 new cases each year in the US alone. The number of cases reported annually has increased nearly 25 fold since national surveillance began in 1982. There are five subspecies of borrelia burgdorferi, over 100 strains in the US and 300 strains worldwide.
There are no accurate tests, either to confirm one has it, or one to show the organism is eradicated and the patient is cured. Fewer than 50 percent of patients recall a tick bite, and less than 50 percent of patients have the classic “bulls eye” rash. Up to 50 percent of ticks in Lyme-endemic areas are infected, and 40 percent of Lyme patients end up with long-term health problems. The average patient sees five doctors over nearly two years before being diagnosed. Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis. Unfortunately, most doctors in our area are not properly trained to recognize or treat Lyme.
Lyme is called “The Great Imitator” as it can be confused and misdiagnosed as many different rheumatological and neurological conditions, such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s and even Alzheimer’s.
Ticks are most active May through October, at temperatures above 70, but may be found throughout the year, surviving even harsh winters. Ticks can be found anywhere, as migrating birds can bring them into your yard.
Be sure to wear repellants specifically for ticks, along with proper clothing (long sleeve shirts, pants tucked into socks, shoes, and a hat). Learn how to properly remove ticks should you find one.
For more information, go to www.ilads.org or www.lymedisease.org.
Glen L. Myers