MYTH:Lyme disease is hard to get and easy to cure.
FACT:Lyme disease is the fastest growing tick-borne disease in the northern hemisphere. Most physicians don't understand the complexities of tick-born disease or know how to treat them appropriately, leaving thousands of people to suffer without adequate care.
MYTH:Ticks aren't a problem in the winter, when it's too cold for them to live outside.
FACT:In most areas of the country, high season for ticks runs from April to November. Experts recommend year-round preventives, however, as infection can occur at any time of the year. In the winter, for example, some tick species move indoors and are in even closer contact with pets and people, while others make a type of antifreeze to surviveduring the winter months.
MYTH:Ticks live in trees, so as long as I don't live near or visit a wooded area, I don't have to worry about them.
FACT:Ticks live on the ground no matter the locale, be it an urban park or a rural area. They typically crawl up from grass blades onto a host and migrate upwards, which is why they're often found on the scalp.
MYTH:The best ways to remove a tick are with a lit match, fingernail polish or petroleum jelly.
FACT:None of these methods cause the tick to
back out and all of them may actually result in the tick depositing more disease-carrying saliva into the wound, increasing the risk of infection.Experts say the best way to remove a tick is to grasp it as close to the skin as possible with tweezers and pull the tick's body out with a steady motion. Wear rubber gloves, and clean the skin with soap and water after removal. Dispose of the tick by placing it in alcohol or flushing it down the toilet.
MYTH:Lyme disease is the only illness that ticks can transmit to dogs and humans.
FACT:Lyme is the most widely-known and common tick disease, but there are many others that ticks carry and can transmit to dogs and people. These include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis (sometimes known as ehrlichiosis and some emerging diseases with potentially devastating effects.
MYTH:If I find a tick on myself or someone in my family, Lyme and other tick diseases can be ruled out immediately with a blood test.
FACT:According to the CDC, laboratory results for tick-borne illness in people are often negative on the first sample and require a second test 2 to 3 weeks later to confirm infection. Further, children are more susceptible to infections due to their immature immune systems.Signs of Lyme are flu-like symptoms such as fever and malaise with or without a bulls-eye rash, but many people (and dogs) with tick-borne illness don't experience any symptoms, especially in the early stages of the disease.
Q: What should I do if I get bitten by a deer tick?
A: Since a high percentage of deer ticks in Minnesota carry the bacteria that causes Lyme, if you get bitten, immediately seek the attention of a physician. To prevent infection, insist on 10-20 days of 100mg doxycycline twice daily (the Lyme bacteria has been found to survive up to 19 days of doxycyline therapy).
Q: When does the rash typically appear?
A: EM rashes typically appear 14 days after a bite (range, 30 days).About 30-50% of patients exhibit a rash at the bite site.
Q: Does it matter when I get treatment?
A: Early treatment is more likely to result in complete symptom relief.
Q: Does where I live increase the risk of Lyme disease?
A: Ticks know no borders and respect no boundaries. A patient's county of residence does not accurately reflect his or her Lyme disease risk because people travel, pets travel, and ticks travel. This creates a dynamic situation with many opportunities for exposure to Lyme disease for each individual.
Q: What about CDC surveillance for Lyme disease?
A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveillance criteria for Lyme disease were devised to track a narrow band of cases for epidemiologic purposes. As stated on the CDC website, the surveillance criteria were never intended to be used as diagnostic criteria, nor were they meant to define the entire scope of Lyme disease.
Per the CDC, reported cases probably represent only 10-12% of actual cases.
Q: Is there state funding specifically for lyme disease surveilence?
A: The Minnesota Department of Health's current funding level for Lyme disease is $215,000 for 2011, which is intended for Lyme disease monitoring and prevention. We do not have funds that are specifically targeted towards Lyme disease research.
Q: How much state funding is available specifically to monitor west nile?
A: Funding level for West Nile virus monitoring and prevention is $261,000 for 2011.
Q: Do other insects carry the Lyme bacteria?
A: Borrelia burgdorferi has been found in various blood-feeding arthropods, only ticks have been shown to be efficient at maintaining and transmitting these spirochetes. Thus, we do not consider these other arthropods to be part of the Lyme disease transmission cycle. Unfortunately there are plenty of blacklegged (deer) ticks in wooded portions of central, east-central, and southeastern Minnesota.
Q: How long before the bacteria is transmitted?
A: The tick needs to be attached for at least 24-36 hours to transmit the bacteria. Attachment time does not need to be as long on kids as an adult because kid's skin is thinner and more blood vessels are closer to the surface.
Q: If left untreated what are some things that can happen?
A: About 50% of untreated patients will have neurological complications, flu-like symptoms, and arthritis.
Q: How do I prevent thrush?
A: To prevent thrush while on antibiotics, folks should take probiotics and eat yogurt. Some physicians also use nystatin daily or fluconazole weekly to prevent yeast issues.
Q:Will I always need to be on antibiotics for late stage lyme?
A: Many patients treated appropriately for late stage Lyme do reach a point where antibiotics are no longer needed while others need only occasional episodic treatment.
Q: What about insurance for long term antibiotics?
A: Many insurance companies operating in MN do cover Lyme treatment indefinitely, if ordered by a physician.
Q. What about concerns over antibiotic resistance and the breeding of "Superbugs?"
A. 70% of the antibiotics used in the US goes into animal feed. Not treating infections until the bacteria is eradicated is another cause of resistance.
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Hugo, MN 55038
Minnesota Lyme Association materials, meeting presentations, and website information are provided for educational purposes only. The information is not intended as medical advice and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any disease. Where medical advice is needed, a licensed healthcare professional
should always be consulted.
Copyright 2011 MLA. All rights reserved.