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In the News: Lyme Disease Awareness Month – Part I

Written by Lisa Jillanza

May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month, a chance for Lyme patients, activists, and educators to spread information on how to prevent Lyme and tick-borne diseases. 

According to LymeDisease.org, “Lyme disease is a bacterial infection primarily transmitted by Ixodes ticks, also known as deer ticks or blacklegged ticks. These tiny arachnids are typically found in wooded and grassy areas. Although people may think of Lyme as an East Coast disease, it is found throughout the United States, as well as in more than sixty other countries.”

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that more than 476,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme Disease in the U.S. every year. Many experts believe the number is higher though, as people with Lyme Disease are often misdiagnosed.

Although anyone can get Lyme Disease, young children, the elderly and those with jobs that require you spend time outdoors are more prone to getting Lyme Disease.

Lyme Disease is often called “The Great Imitator,” because its “symptoms mimic many other diseases. It can affect any organ of the body, including the brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, and the heart.” 

Patients with Lyme Disease are typically misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and psychiatric illness, including depression. 

Most people get Lyme Disease from the bite of a nymphal, or the immature form of the tick. Nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed and because they are so tiny, their bite is painless so many people don’t even realize that they have been bitten. 

Once a tick is attached, if left undisturbed it can feed for several days. The longer it is attached, the more likely it will transmit Lyme Disease and other harmful pathogens. 

(Continued in Part II…)