Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spring means Lyme Disease has returned

Spring means Lyme Disease has returned, With apple blossoms in Southeast Pennsylvania heralding the arrival of Spring, Doctors are already reporting a surge in Lyme Disease cases in the state. This tick-born infection has a firm foothold through the State making the state number two on the list of most confirmed cases of the disease for 10 straight years in a Center for Disease Control report. Only New York has more confirmed cases.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the average number of cases in Pennsylvania is around 4000 cases a year. When discovered early, the disease is easily treatable but if symptoms are ignored or missed, significant and irreversible organ damage can occur. The attached slideshow and video show details on rash and tick identification.

According to the CDC, early stage symptoms include:

• Red, expanding rash called erythema migrans (EM)
• Fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes

If not discovered in early stage, symptoms progress to include:

• Additional EM lesions in other areas of the body
• Facial or Bell's palsy (loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face)
• Severe headaches and neck stiffness due to meningitis (inflammation of the spinal cord)
• Pain and swelling in the large joints (such as knees)
• Shooting pains that may interfere with sleep

And finally, months after initial infection:

Approximately 60% of patients with untreated infection may begin to have intermittent bouts of arthritis, with severe joint pain and swelling. Large joints are most often affected, particularly the knees3. Arthritis caused by Lyme disease manifests differently than other causes of arthritis and must be distinguished from arthralgias (pain, but not swelling, in joints).
Up to 5% of untreated patients may develop chronic neurological complaints months to years after infection4. These include shooting pains, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, and problems with short-term memory.

While many ticks carry diseases, only one is primarily responsible for Lyme Disease and it’s the Deer Tick. This tick is easily identifiable from the common Dog Tick because it has a circle on its back near the head. If you notice an expanding rash that looks like a bulls eye after a bite from a Deer Tick, suspect Lyme Disease and seek medical treatment.

Keep in mind that not every Lyme disease infection shows all of the symptoms. A blood test will be needed to determine if it is indeed Lyme Disease.

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