“We’re dropping rhymes to target Lyme disease
Calling attention to prevention
So please use repellent and do a tick check
Upper Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast
Nod your headache if you got bullseye rash, fever, fatigue.”
— “Tick Check 1-2 (Lyme Disease Prevention Rap)” by MC Bugg-Z.
Previously on The PediaBlog, we have examined the emergence of Lyme disease as an infectious disease now occurring at epidemic rates…
A new study from researchers at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh highlights “the conversion of western Pennsylvania from a Lyme-naïve to a Lyme-epidemic area.” The study, published online in Clinical Infectious Diseases, looked at electronic medical records of pediatric Lyme disease cases from 2003 to 2013 and found a dramatic increase in the number children seeking evaluation and treatment for the vector-borne disease that is now endemic in every county of Pennsylvania. The rise in cases […] gained “epidemic speed in 2009-11” and has recently been “exponential.”
… and the reasons for the explosion of Lyme disease:
As warmer temperatures and more precipitation bring a climate better-suited to the deer tick’s life cycle and the well-being of its mammal reservoirs (deer and white-footed mice), Lyme disease is expected to continue spreading to points west and north.
Symptoms, treatment options, and complications have been duly noted:
Typical symptoms are not specific: fever, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue. The rash that can accompany a tick bite — erythema migrans or bullseye rash — is not present in all cases. If the diagnosis is made at this early stage, treatment with antibiotics (amoxicillin or cefuroxime under eight years old and doxycycline for those who are older) for 2-4 weeks is usually curative. If this early stage of Lyme disease is not identified and treated, the bacteria can spread to the joints (arthritis), the nervous system (meningitis, bell’s palsy), heart (arrhythmias), and cause severe symptoms of debilitating and chronic fatigue and muscle pain. In people with these symptoms, treatment options and recovery without residual health problems are variable, less than certain, and frequently a simple matter of opinion. This can be frustrating for people who suffer as well as doctors who treat them.
We have featured methods of prevention, including the use of repellents:
- Pick a product that is proven to be effective.
- Apply repellents according to the package instructions.
- Pick products that last long enough to protect your family the whole time you are outdoors.
Most insect bites are annoying and uncomfortable. But recently we have been experiencing an increase in Lyme disease here in Western Pennsylvania. It’s a good idea to protect your child from insect bites when playing outside.
We explained how to remove a tick attached to the skin…
Fine-tipped tweezers are the best tools for removing a feeding tick, whose mouth parts can become practically cemented to the skin. Trying to suffocate the tick by smothering it with vasoline or lighting it with a match, as some old remedies suggest, will likely not be successful and may even be dangerous. Grab the tick as close to the skin as possible, without squeezing on the abdomen, and, without yanking or twisting, pull it straight out with steady and even force. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t get the whole tick.
Clean the area with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol and flush the tick down the toilet. (There is no need to save the tick; pediatricians run tests on tykes, not ticks.) If you think the tick was attached for longer than 24 hours, or you aren’t sure, call your doctor’s office during regular office hours for further instructions. (Tick bites are not emergencies.)
… and wondered why, in the midst of an epidemic, there isn’t a Lyme disease vaccine:
Dog owners might know that a Lyme disease vaccine is available for their pooches, but few of us remember that there was once a vaccine that was licensed to protect people from the Borellia burgdorferi bacteria transmitted by a deer tick bite.
Market forces, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), were the primary reasons for bringing LYMErix down[…]
We even searched for the truth regarding the “20-year-plus ‘Lyme War'”:
Obviously, more research is needed. Science should lead the way in finding the truth of why some patients with Lyme disease have persistent and debilitating symptoms. And until there is an overwhelming consensus of evidence that points to that truth, there will be controversy.
But what we’re seeing in the “Lyme Wars” is eerily similar to what’s gone on with some other, made-up “controversies” — over vaccines, tobacco, and climate change — accompanied by the false experts, the mean-spirited and personal attacks on scientists and physicians, and the conspiracy theories.
Once battle lines are drawn, heels are dug in. Deep. I hope, this time, we have a kinder, more satisfying, and more productive conclusion to the debate surrounding Lyme disease.
This short video from MC Bugg-Z brings it all home:
The Fairfax County, Virginia Division of Environmental Health has more:
Don’t get sick from the bite of a tick! MC Bugg-Z shares tips for how to protect yourself from tick bites and Lyme disease, the most commonly reported vector-bone illness in the United States.
Lyme disease is spread by blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks) and can produce a wide range of symptoms depending on the stage of infection. These symptoms can include fever, rash, facial paralysis, and arthritis, and not every Lyme disease rash looks like a bullseye. Seek medical attention if you observe any of these symptoms and have had a tick bite, live in an area known for Lyme disease, or have recently traveled to an area where Lyme disease occurs.