Lyme disease is currently one of the fastest-growing vector-borne diseases in the United States. More than 14,000 cases are reported annually, but because symptoms so closely resemble the flu many more cases are never reported and people can suffer for years. Scientists estimate that as many as nine out of every ten cases go unreported.
Lyme is a nasty disease. Like syphilis in the 19th century, Lyme disease has been called “the great imitator”. It affects everyone who has it differently and it can mask itself as many other diseases. It has been known to cause temporary or permanent blindness, and in extreme cases, death.
Many patients with chronic Lyme disease require prolonged treatment until they become symptom-free. Relapses occur and re-treatment may be required. There are no tests currently available to prove that the organism is eradicated or that the patient with chronic Lyme disease is cured. Lyme can stay with you for life.
The down and dirty is that Lyme is a complex disease that can be highly difficult to diagnose. Reliable diagnostic tests are not yet available which leaves many—patients and physicians alike—relying on the so called “telltale signs” of Lyme disease: discovery of a tick on the skin, a bull’s eye rash, and possibly joint pain. However, according to the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), research indicates that only 50%-60% of patients recall a tick bite, the rash is reported in only 35% to 60% of patients, and joint swelling typically occurs in only 20% to 30% of patients. And given the prevalent use of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen, joint inflammation is often masked.
Be smart. Use a bug spray and wear long pants when outside. And, most importantly, contact a professional to deal with the tick problem in your own yard today.