Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lyme Disease Awareness

Dear Friends,

Whether you are hanging out in the backyard or camping in pristine wilderness, Lyme disease is a serious concern.

Do you know what Lyme disease is? That’s okay, most people don’t. But with summer coming and the great outdoors looking more and more tempting, you need to know the simple steps you can take to avoid contracting Lyme disease.

What is Lyme Disease? A CBC report around this time last year put it is way: “tiny tick, big problem.” First diagnosed in Lyme, Connecticut in the mid-1970s, the disease is spread by nymphal ticks no bigger than a speck of pepper . Ticks travel from animal to animal, feeding off blood. If a tick consumes infected blood and then bites you, symptoms begin appearing in as little as three days. The bites can be painless and leave only a tiny mark that doesn’t last very long.

What are the symptoms of Lyme Disease? According to the Public Health Agency of Canada:

The symptoms of Lyme disease usually happen in three stages, although not all patients have every symptom. The first sign of infection is usually a circular rash. This rash occurs in about 70-80 percent of infected people. It begins at the site of the tick bite after a delay of three days to one month.

Other common symptoms include:
  • fatigue
  • chills
  • fever
  • headache
  • muscle and joint pain
  • swollen lymph nodes
If untreated, the second stage of the disease can last up to several months and include:
  • central and peripheral nervous system disorders
  • multiple skin rashes
  • arthritis and arthritic symptoms
  • heart palpitations
  • extreme fatigue and general weakness
It sounds serious, and it is. But it is also easily preventable, and if promptly diagnosed, it is easily treatable, too.

Here are a few tips from the BC Centre for Disease Control:
  • Walk on cleared trails wherever possible when walking in tall grass or woods.
  • Wear light coloured clothing, tuck your top into your pants and tuck your pants into your boots or socks.
  • Put insect repellent containing DEET on all uncovered skin.
  • Check clothing and scalp (covered or not) when leaving an area where ticks may live.
Lyme disease is North America’s fastest rising infectious disease. It’s utterly debilitating if not detected and treated quickly with antibiotics – which happens rarely in B.C.

If detected early, Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics in a matter of weeks. When in doubt, see a doctor – and make sure she tests for Lyme disease if your symptoms fit the above profile.

I am close to several people who suffer from Lyme disease. I know how brutal this disease can be. Thank you for reading.


For more information: