Massachusetts is ground zero for the growing problem of Lyme disease. When it comes to a disease like Lyme, the complexity of diagnosing and the ambiguity of the symptoms makes for a great deal of unknowns. Through research and patient treatment, the medical community is gaining new knowledge about Lyme each day. Disseminating that information out to doctors nationwide as proven to be a difficult task, which is why Dr. Nevena Zubcevik came to Martha’s Vineyard to update the medical staff at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Her research and patient work at the Dean Center for Tick-Borne Illness at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital have given her new Lyme disease insights.
Chronic Lyme Disease Expert
Post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (chronic Lyme) has proven to be difficult to diagnose and treat, which is why Dr. Zubcevik is hard at work helping patients who suffer. Chronic Lyme can present in a large variety and combination of symptoms that can range in severity from minor to debilitating. With tick bites going unnoticed, many patients suffer for months and years without a Lyme diagnosis. The CDC lists symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, muscle aches, episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath, nerve pain, severe headaches, neck stiffness, short-term memory problems, shooting pains and numbness, heart palpitations and inflammation of the brain or spinal cord.
Dr. Zubcevik shared updated information about symptoms to watch for that is important for the medical field and the public to know.
- Sudden onset of dementia is a red flag for Lyme, especially in those 50 and over or with a compromised immune system.
- Headache, mood, fatigue and irritability are signs of Lyme in children.
Tick-Borne Disease Prevention Update
She also shared updated information in regards to Lyme prevention and treatment, which might require a patient to advocate for themselves if their doctor has not been updated accordingly.
Previously it was thought that ticks need to be attached for 24-48 hours to pass on pathogens. Dr. Zubcevik says this is outdated. Anaplasmosis can be transmitted in 15 minutes, Powassan virus in 10 minutes and the 48 hour Lyme rule is outdated, but the timing is still unknown.
Doxycycline is the antibiotic used to treat Lyme disease. It does not kill the bacteria; it simply keeps it from replicating while our immune systems to the real work. Treatment should be 100-200 milligrams, twice a day for 20 days.
Diagnosis is tricky. She says only 20% of patients have the bulls-eye rash. She also points to the fact that with ten different strains of Lyme in the United States, many don’t test positive on the traditional Western blot or ELISA test.
Avoiding Lyme Disease in Worcester
With treatment and diagnosis being so complicated, it is best to avoid Lyme disease altogether. With ticks being so tiny, it is vital to do a purposeful careful tick check after spending time outdoors in untreated areas. However, avoiding ticks entirely is the best method of prevention. At Mosquito Squad of Worcester, we offer tick tubes and tick spray in combination for over 90% reduction in ticks on your property. Call today.