Setting the Record Straight: Lyme Disease
May is Setting the Record Straight month here at WEGO Health and we’re excited to hear from YOU about the myths & misconceptions that irk you most. We recently reached out to some Health Activists who participate in the Lyme Disease community and asked them to share their top myths & misconceptions about Lyme Disease.
Here’s what we heard from Kenneth Mercure (@thelymelife and http://facebook.com/lymefighter24) and his community – with additional commentary from Lyme Disease Health Activists Jennifer (from http://jmgarnet76.blogspot.com) and Jenny (from http://mylymechronicle.wordpress.com and @artthentic):
Top 4 Myths and Misconceptions About Lyme Disease:
1) Lyme Disease is Difficult to Get and Easy to Treat
There is nothing difficult to catch about this disease. Anyone living in heavily populated tick country (northeast and upper Midwest) or anyone with a love for outdoors knows how easy it is to pick up ticks during this season. When treated early further complications of the disease can be avoided. However, once it has been allowed to proliferate through the body it can take months or even years to recover. Treatment can also be very expensive, so getting better often relies on what a patient is able to afford. Costs can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars a month and are not always covered by insurance. Coverage is often denied by insurance companies, citing the guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme written by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) as proof that long-term treatment is unnecessary and/or experimental. In addition, the combination of medications needed to combat Lyme Disease and prevent it from morphing into a cyst form is more intricate than the standard treatment.
2) A tick must be attached for a certain period of time for disease transmission to occur
This is a hotly debated issue as some experts say it needs to be at least 24 hours or more and others say there is no set time. Couple this with the fact that many individuals either don’t remember how long the tick was on them or simply never saw one at all and it only further makes figuring out how long a tick has to have blood to blood contact before transmitting disease that much more difficult. One fact that is known for sure is that the longer a tick is on you the higher your risk for infection becomes.
3) Everyone with Lyme gets a Bulls-Eye Rash
Often thought of as the most definitive early symptom of Lyme Disease, the Bull’s-Eye rash is not as common as people think it is. Experts suggest that the rash is seen in as little as 30% of cases, with rashes also going unnoticed due to body hair and unusual placement on the body. The deer ticks most commonly known for transmitting the disease are often the size of a pin head! Impossible to find these in your hair (or many places) unless they are already engorged with your blood and actively transmitting infection.
4) Lyme Disease is Rare
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports around 28,000 new cases annually, but admit that the actual number is likely ten times that, totaling 300,000+ new infections per year. That would mean that since the year 2000 there have been 3,600,000 new infections. The numbers say it all- Lyme Disease is not rare!