EMPIRE STATE LYME DISEASE ASSOCIATION

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Lyme tests are not accurate-2005 John Hopkins study

 

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Thinking Outside the Box about Lyme Disease 

                              By Aviva Rossman*

 At this point, I've spent a great amount of time researching information on the subject and wanted to share it through some type of preventative education. This summer after finding out that several people in our community have been recently bitten, I felt that I must!

The following information is a condensed and brief overview of information that may help you and your family in the prevention of Lyme disease. 

 1) Myth - I can only get a tick from hiking in the woods.

 Know that -Ticks can be anywhere there is grass and vegetation or in your home if you have pets that go in and out.

 2) Myth - Effective methods of tick removal include coating them with Vaseline, use of a hot match or fingernails.

 Know that- If you find a tick attached, it is best to get immediate attention from an experienced health care professional. To Remove a Tick: Do not squeeze, twist the body of tick, burn it or use any substance on it.  Grasp the tick close to the skin with tweezers and pull it straight out. Use antiseptic on skin, wash hands and disinfect tweezers.  Record the date and any symptoms that may follow and see a physician familiar with tick borne diseases.

  Special tick tweezers can make removal easier. You can save the tick in a container for future reference and with the date and any future symptoms documented; this may assist you in the best course of treatment, if you have contracted any disease. [1]

3) Myth- A tick takes 24-72 hours before transmitting the Lyme Bacterium to its host.

 Know that- Studies that were done on tick attachment duration and the subsequent contracting of Lyme disease use a baseline of 24 hours. This does not eliminate the possibility that the bacterium may be transmitted at an earlier time before the 24 hour mark.[2]    

 4) Myth- If I get bitten and have no symptoms then I am not infected.

Know that - Each tick is different and may or may not carry Lyme and other possible co-infections. Symptoms may or may not occur close to the time of exposure to the bacteria. Symptoms can also vary with each person based on their immune system and biological makeup. For instance, according to the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), a Bull’s eye rash is reported in only 35-60% of patients.[3]

“Early signs of Lyme disease include flu-like symptoms and a Lyme rash. The symptoms include muscle aches, joint pain, fatigue, fever and headaches. Most symptoms show up days or weeks and occasionally months following infection.” [4] It is important to get prompt treatment to be able to prevent the Borrelia bacterium from entering the central nervous system. Thorough treatment with antibiotics can halt a potential infection, while taking a “wait and see” approach can put you at risk for developing Lyme disease.[5] Please be smart and stay current about information even before a bite occurs. Be aware that patients report that they contracted Lyme disease in spite of being given a one dose prophylactic approach immediately following a tick bite.  Please see a doctor who is knowledgeable about tick borne diseases for preventative measures if you are bitten.

 5) Myth- Ticks are only carried by deer and only deer ticks carry the Lyme Bacterium.

 Know that- Lyme ticks are carried by over 300 different species of animals including mammals, birds and reptiles.[6] Species including the Lone Star (white diamond on its back), and the pacific coast tick can carry the Bacterium as well as their co-infections.[7] “... live spirochetes have been found in mosquitoes, mites, fleas, biting flies and transmission through some of these routes has been documented.” [8]

 6) Myth- If my Lyme test results are negative then I do not have Lyme disease.

 Know that- “Currently there is no reliable test to determine if someone has contracted Lyme disease or is cured of it. False positives and false negatives often occur, though false negatives are far more common. In fact, some studies indicate up to 50% of the patients tested for Lyme disease receive false negative results. Doctors who are experienced in recognizing Lyme disease will treat when symptoms typical of the illness are present, even without a positive test, in effort to prevent the development of chronic Lyme disease” [9]

 Prevention:

 “Spraying one’s skin with DEET or one’s clothes with permethrin containing insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and long pants, and “tucking pants into socks”, continue to be the best ways to avoid ticks attaching to the skin.” [10]A plant-derived pesticide, “Pyrethrum is a powerful, rapidly acting insecticide, originally derived from the crushed and dried flowers of the daisy Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium”. “Permethrin is a human-made synthetic pyrethroid. It does not repel insects but works as a contact insecticide…” [11] In studies, both natural pyrethrum and permethrin were found to have relatively low toxicity levels in mammals. Some common permethrin containing product brand names are: Duranon, Permethrin Tick Repellent, Cutter Outdoorsman Gear Guard and Repel

Permanone. [12]

Please read labels and instructions carefully before using any of these products! For instance, while the chemical DEET is effective, misusing products containing it may cause toxic reactions![13] When applying DEET to skin avoid the eyes, nose and mouth. Parents should take responsibility for applying any insecticide products to their children. “Conservative use of low-concentration DEET products is most appropriate for children.” [14] In addition, take special caution to not expose pets, (they can be toxic to certain animals) unless the products are specifically made for them.

 According to a study conducted by Dr. Fradin, “When DEET-based repellents are applied in combination with permethrin-treated clothing protection against bites of nearly 100% can be achieved.” [15]  In addition, Products made with ingredients from the “Neem” tree, widely used in India for its pesticide/antimicrobial properties, may be a natural alternative. However, neem's effectiveness is not as widely studied as DEET. In addition, the company Avon makes the product “Skin So Soft” bug guard Plus Picaridin Aerosol Spray which seems to have some popularity.

After an outing, to avoid ticks from spreading in your home, remove all clothes promptly including undergarments. They should be put through the wash cycle and dried. Always conduct family body checks after a day outdoors. Check pets too. 

 Recommended resources: Cure Unknown, by Pam Weintraub, It’s All In Your Head, by PJ Langhoff , Healing Lyme, by Stephen Harrod Buhner,

 Empire State Lyme Disease association -www.empirestatelymediseaseassociation.org, International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) -www.ilads.org                

 For Additional information about pesticides, products and their proper use contact the National Pesticide Information Center at 1-800-858-7378 (http://npic.orst.edu)

Please feel free to contact me for additional information, resources and connections within the Lyme community at Averjoy@yahoo.com, Eva Haughie can be contacted at EmpireStateLyme@aol.com

 Disclaimer: The information provided here should not be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and does not represent endorsement or an official position of Empire State Lyme Disease Association, Inc. or any of its directors, officers, advisors or members. Please consult a physician for all medical advice, including advice on testing, treatment and care of a patient who has or may have Lyme or any associated tick borne diseases


[1] ( Empire State Lyme Disease Association-  (www.empirestatelymediseaseassociation.org)

[2] Ibid

[3] International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) ( www.ilads.org )

[4] See Note 1

[5] See Note 3

[6] Healing Lyme, by Stephen Harrod Buhner

[7] See Note 3

[8] See Note 6

[9] See note 3

[10] Ibid

[11] Mark S. Fradin, MD, Mosquitoes and Mosquito Repellents: A Clinician's Guide, Annals of Internal Medicine 1988; 128: 931-940

[12] Ibid

[13] National Pesticide Information Center- (http://npic.orst.edu)

[14] See note 11

[15] Ibid

*Edited by Eva Haughie (President of the Empire State Lyme Disease Association)