Lyme Disease

Wikipedia defines Lyme disease as…..”the most common tick-borne disease in the Northern Hemisphere.  Borrelia (a species of bacteria) is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected ticks…….Early symptoms may include fever, headache, depression, fatigue, and a characteristic circular skin rash…..Left untreated, later symptoms may involve the joints, heart, and central nervous system.  In most cases, the infection and its symptoms are eliminated by antibiotics, especially if the illness is treated early.  Late, delayed, or inadequate treatment can lead to the more serious symptoms, which can be disabling and difficult to treat.”

I met someone recently who was ill for quite some time and he kept insisting the doctors do a Lyme test. They said no, that there are no ticks in Vermont carrying Lyme disease.  He finally convinced someone to do the test and that was indeed what he had.  We all must be proactive about our health.  I say this all the time.  Do your research and seek out a second opinion.  Early detection is very important.

Symptoms of a tick bite can appear within one to two weeks or shorter or much longer, such as months to years.  This is the season for ticks, May through September.  You may see a red rash in the shape of a circle from the bite.  Unfortunately, tick bites are not painful, and you may not know you were even bit until you see the common bullseye rash pattern.  In some cases, you may not develop a rash; however, you may still have contracted Lyme disease.  Some other symptoms of Lyme disease are muscle pain, joint pain, heart palpitations and dizziness.  Some untreated patients will see some muscle tone loss in the face, severe headaches, neck stiffness and a sensitivity to light.

Young ticks will latch on and feed for a day without being noticed.  Lyme disease can be transmitted to the fetus through the placenta if the mother is infected, causing the most harm during the first three months of pregnancy.  In this case, a pregnant woman would not be given the usual treatment of antibiotics for Lyme disease, but a less effective antibiotic that is harmless to the fetus.

Animals may also contract Lyme disease.  Cats may show lameness, fever, loss of appetite or unusual breathing.  Dogs may be lethargic, poor appetite, fever, lameness, joint pain or kidney damage.  Dogs can transmit Lyme disease to their unborn puppies.  However, some animals display no symptoms at all.  I was at my friend’s house and we safely removed a tick from her dog with the help of the local vet on the phone.  I placed some oil over the tick and gently pulled it out.  You may want to keep the tick and ask your vet if it needs to be tested.  Even though my cat is an indoor cat, he got fleas last summer. Fleas must’ve been carried in on someone’s shoes.  I now treat him for a couple months during the summer.  If you live in a wooded or grassy area, check your animals when they come in the house.  Ticks are easy to feel on animals.  Embedded ticks grow to be the size of a small pimple.  My daughter works at a veterinary office and she told me she is seeing more cases of Lyme disease than she has seen before.  Protect your animals with the vaccine and flea and tick repellant.

The prompt removal of a tick, within 36 hours, will reduce the risk of contracting Lyme disease.  July and August are especially heavy times for tick bites.  The coastal areas of Maine and New Hampshire tend to have higher populations of ticks.  And with high deer populations in some states, ticks have animal hosts to feed on and then pass the bacterial disease from animal to humans. 

Doctors can diagnose the disease early if the initial symptom of the rash near the bite site appears.  Only when these symptoms do not appear, does the disease go undetected and will then prey on nerves and joints.  Take common sense precautions when out in the woods.  Wear light colored clothing tucked into socks and tick repellent.  After exposure, check the body thoroughly for ticks.  Deer ticks are not much larger than the head of a pin.  With proper precautions, Lyme disease can be prevented in animals and humans. 

I just read a story from someone at Hippocrates Health Institute who contracted Lyme disease and her symptoms where muscle pains, fever and insomnia.  Misdiagnosed by her primary doctor and many others, she found a Lyme disease specialist who diagnosed her problem.  However, that did not help with five years of pain, exhaustion, anxiousness and metal confusion.  She was given oral antibiotics, intravenous antibiotics and vitamins for treatment.  She was weak and struggling just to hold a job.  A second deer tick bite gave her another dose of Lyme disease.  After many more months of multiple problems, she began a raw food lifestyle.  This meant eventually going off her medication, but it has not been an easy road for her.

Stay healthy and safe this summer.

These statements are meant for informational purposes only and should not take the place of your primary care doctor.  Should you notice any of these symptoms, please consult your doctor or vet.

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