May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month in the US. Do you know Connecticut is a state endemic for Lyme Disease? Do you know the local resources available to you if Lyme Disease occurs to you or a family member? Do you know some of the ways to reduce the number of ticks on your property?
Lyme Disease is often treated quickly with a course of antibiotics. Unfortunately, 25% of those infected will develop PTLDS or Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome. This disease can be debilitating for years. Finding a “Lyme Literate” doctor is important. Patients who suffer from PTLDS were usually misdiagnosed on undiagnosed when they first experienced symptoms. Scientists don’t agree on this issue. Most doctors and scientists believe that chronic Lyme Disease is simply a reinfection and not a continuation of a previous infection.
Each year the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, receives information from state health departments which now put the number of Lyme Disease cases in the US at 30,000 per year. In August 2013, the CDC said it believes the actual number of cases is closer to 300,000 or 1000% more.
Knowing how to prevent this disease is our first step. Removing a tick within 24 hours of a bite reduces your chances greatly of getting Lyme Disease. Know how to remove a tick safely. If you do find a tick and think you have been bitten, be sure and place it in a sealed plastic bag. Your physician can have it tested for Lyme Disease, which may allow you to be treated more quickly. If no tick bite is found and no rash occurs, as it does in 30% of the cases, your treatment may be delayed. Having the tick tested may speed up your treatment.
With every question comes an answer and for Fairfield County residents one answer for Lyme Disease victims are doctors who are increasingly familiar with diagnosing the disease. In a Best of Greenwich magazine piece, Dr. Arthur Yee was listed as a “Top Doc” in infectious diseases, specializing in Lyme Disease. US News and World Report also lists Dr. Lee as one of 4 physicians at Norwalk Hospital specializing in infectious diseases. He currently practices at Norwalk Medical Group and we are fortunate to have him as a resource for residents.
May through late October is the time when ticks are out looking for their blood meal. In spring through mid-summer, ticks are as small as a poppy seed in their nymph stage. Their small size makes them very difficult to see. Wearing light colored clothing allows you to see them more easily before they attach to your skin. Performing daily tick-checks when outdoors is a good practice to reduce your chances of being bitten.
Reducing leaf litter and trimming thick brush and shrubs around your home also reduces the number of ticks. Experts also recommend using a perimeter spray around your home. A perimeter or barrier spray can eliminate most of the ticks on your property, thereby eliminating your exposure to Lyme Disease.
Using the information here will reduce your chances of getting this disease and will make your summer more relaxing. With a Saturday’s worth of work in your yard, you will be reducing the places ticks like to hide. Performing tick-checks at the end of the day will also reduce your chances of being infected by a tick-borne disease.