Friday, 2 May 2014

Lyme: bite-sized facts

You can read more in depth information about Lyme disease by clicking on 'Lyme in Depth' above, but here are some bite-sized Lyme facts:

1. Not everyone with Lyme Disease gets the 'bullseye' rash.  Already, some articles in the media are suggesting the bullseye rash (or Erythema Migrans) is the most common symptom/ among the most common symptoms for Lyme - this is not the case; in fact studies vary greatly in their estimates - from as little as 4%.

2. Lyme Disease is not easily treated.  The attempts by the media not to 'scaremonger' are easily understood - but there is a big difference between presenting information sensibly and presenting entirely false information.  In many cases, Lyme that is treated early IS treated effectively, but the media fails to discuss the difficulty in getting an early diagnosis.  Public awareness and access to good, reliable information is essential for both doctors and patients to ensure Lyme is recognised early, giving treatment a greater chance to be effective

3. Ticks are everywhere! Again, there is a lot of misinformation regarding where Lyme Disease exists and where ticks can be found.  It is difficult to verify this with one specific reference, but searching and reading around different articles, websites and blogs, as well as academic journal articles shows there is only contradictory information.  Basically, it's another big 'we don't know' about Lyme.

4. Ticks don't just carry Lyme disease.  As if it's not horrifying enough to envision a tiny little bloodsucker, literally sucking the life out of you (really, yes, that's what it feels like later), these lovely little buggers often transmit coinfections such as Babesia, Bartonella, various viral infections, parasites and other microbes.  See the links below for further details.  

In an article published in the US edition of the Huffington Post last year: The Global Search for Education: the 300,000 - Ticks  Dr Richard Horowitz is quoted as saying: "I call this syndrome Lyme-MSIDS. MSIDS stands for Multiple Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome..."

Many people with Lyme disease don't 'just' have Lyme, their bodies are battling many infections at once - another reason for the difficulty in diagnosis and the disparate symptoms seen between patients.

5. Ticks do not have to be attached for a specific time period to transmit infections.  It is generally held (but more evidence is required) that the longer a tick is attached, the greater the chance of it transmitting infections.  However, removing the tick, squashing the tick, breaking the tick (by attempting to brush it off, for example) may all increase the risk of transmission as any of these scenarios can cause the tick to regurgitate its stomach contents and transmit infections quickly (yes, that really does mean the tick vomits into your bloodstream).  

On that happy, cheery, stomach-turning thought, we'll leave the info there for today.  

Just remember - the more you know, the less you are at risk!  Be proactive - learn about Lyme disease now.

Help promote Lyme disease awareness and help others too!

Some good resources for further info:

 References for the above facts can also be found on the links

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