Isn’t Lyme Disease just in North America?
In the U.S. Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto is found but in Europe the strains are B. burgdorferi ss, B. garinii or B. afzelii.
Extracts from the website above show the following:
In England, the British public has been warned by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) to carefully protect themselves from tick bites due to a “sharp rise in the number of the blood-sucking parasites and increased cases of Lyme Disease in Hampshire, Dorset, and Berkshire.” The increase in tick population has been blamed on a “particularly wet and mild summer.” According to the HPA, “Lyme Disease is a highly infectious disease which is transmitted through tick bites and can lead to blindness, paralysis, and even death if left undiagnosed.” Britons are advised to protect themselves by “wearing trousers, using insect repellent and checking their skin for ticks” after visits to the countryside. The HPA also notes that “incidents of Lyme Disease have increased by 90% since 2006 across the UK, and New Forest, South Downs, Dorset, and Berkshire have now been named as tick hot-spots.”
Researchers in Germany studied the influence of preventative measures on the risk of being bitten by a tick and suffering from Lyme Disease in children attending kindergarten in forested regions of Germany. Fifty-three schools were studied, encompassing 1,707 children. Researchers conclude that “children in forest kindergartens are at a considerable risk of tick bites and Lyme Disease.”
A fascinating new report from the microbiology department at Raigmore Hospital in Scotland states that at least nine different strains of Borrelia have been documented in Scotland, including Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia sensu stricto. Additionally, a report appeared on September 15, 2007, in the North Scotland Press and Journal, entitled “Bloodsucking Ticks Blamed as Lethal Lyme Disease Cases Soar.” This newspaper article not only documents the dramatic increase of Lyme Disease cases in Scotland, it also provides evidence that Lyme Disease can be fatal if not treated adequately. The article uses the word “rocketed” to describe the dramatic increase in cases over the past decade. Dr. Ken Oates of Health Protection Scotland observes that “There has been a genuine rise. Nobody can really say why. I would guess a summer like this which is warm and wet provides favorable conditions. Up to one in five ticks can carry Lyme Disease in Scotland.”
As you can see, the problem of Lyme Disease knows no borders. It knows no nationalities, no races, and no political systems. As a virulent bacterial infection, Lyme Disease simply spreads, and spreads, and spreads, and, if something isn’t done, the worldwide cases of Lyme Disease will do nothing but continue to increase. _____________________________________________________________________________________________
I thought this map is very interesting to show that Lyme is not only a problem in North America (as some may believe).
The map shows huge amount of coverage throughout most of Europe.
The warm and humid areas are favoured by ticks . Climate change can be aiding their spread even further. Although we shouldn’t worry about being out in the country we should be vigilant and protect ourselves, family and pets with deet or citronella products (Avon Skin So Soft is one commonly used and is safe for pets and humans!). Also check your clothing when returning home. Wear light coloured clothing so you can see them on you and stick to footpaths where possible as they like to hide in tall grasses or under leaf litter. Lastly keep an eye out for any strange marks or rashes on your skin or signs of a tick still latching on. To remove a tick check out this website http://www.ticktalkireland.org/howtoremoveaticksafely.html
Be safe, be tick aware!
It’s interesting that some information on Lyme depicts the rash as the overriding sign of infection. Also, after I was bitten I looked up symptoms and thought I was fine as I didn’t have ‘the ‘flu’ after. Some specialists will even say the Elisa blood tests are accurate in every case – if you’re negative, you just don’t have it. As you come to learn more about Lyme you realise that it’s not all as clear cut as they say it is. Here’s an example of statistics:
Read on to see how much you might not know about Lyme Disease….
So many of us are told that Lyme is hard to get and easy to cure. With 60% of the tick population carrying the spirochete that causes Lyme, how hard can it be?
Did you know that the CDC estimates there are over 200,000 new cases of Lyme Disease each year?
Did you know that of those with Lyme Disease, only about 1/3 of the people recall being bitten by a tick?
Did you know that the famous rash is seen in only 50% of people with Lyme Disease?
Did you know that the Elisa test used to screen for Lyme has as much as a 55% inaccuracy rate and that if you test negative, there is a 35% chance that the result is incorrect?
Did you know that it can take up to 8 weeks for your body to generate enough Lyme antibodies to show up on a test?
Did you know that if you delay treatment for 8-10 weeks, you risk having the disease spread into your brain, your heart and your joints?
Did you know that delays in treatment can raise your treatment failure likelihood from 5% to 62%?
Did you know that after the recommended treatment over 25% of patients will face chronic symptoms?
Did you know that people acquire auto-immune disorders as a complication of Lyme Disease?
Did you know that people die from Lyme Disease?
Did you know that while doctors argue over whether these chronic symptoms are an active infection, a post-infection syndrome, or Lyme-generated complications that insurance companies use that medical debate to deny testing and treatment for suffering patients?
Did you know that doctors fear treating Lyme patients with chronic symptoms because doctors with opposing opinions, along with insurance companies, will threaten their licenses by reporting them to medical boards for “over-treating”?
Did you know that both CT & RI [in the States] have passed laws to protect doctors who want to treat patients with chronic symptoms related to Lyme Disease? We need this in every state!
The above website contains links to each fact. There are many sources of information that can be obtained also such as http://www.canlyme.com/ & http://www.lymeinfo.net/lyme.html (plus check out the section marked Lyme groups and Lyme blogs for more!)
The myth held that Lyme is easy to catch and easy to treat is dispelled by this very interesting article – written by a doctor suffering from a tick-borne infection:
Doctor’s Dilemma, a paper
Edward L. McNeil, M.B., B.S., M.D.
The West Nile Virus is spreading as every day we hear of new cases and people dying from the disease.
It is not the only infectious disease that is spreading and is killing people although it does not kill quickly nor dramatically enough to be considered newsworthy. The health authorities are justifiably worried about cases of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis) in cattle and other animals, that has plagued some European countries but has now been identified in the US. BSE is the source of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans that destroys the brain. Unlike West Nile Virus, it takes many years before symptoms appear at which time there is no effective treatment for it and the patients die.
Other diseases, far more common, spreading rapidly and expected to infect one-half million people within the next few years, come from being bitten by a tick, a mosquito or a flea. They are commonly known as tick-borne diseases, the one most well known being Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi or its variant strain).
When Lyme disease was first recognized in Connecticut, the majority of the victims were infected by a single germ subsequently called Borrelia Burgdorferi, after Dr. Burgdorfer who identified it.
Unfortunately, most of those who have been bitten by a disease-carrying tick can now be infected with more than one disease from a single bite. One is Ehrlichia, another is Borrelia burgdorferi, and Babesia which is a malarial cousin and gives similar symptoms to malaria. The three mentioned organisms are not the only ones that can infect from the same bite, as these organisms depend on the geographical area from which they came. These diseases are not only prevalent in the USA but are found in every European country, Scandinavia, the Balkans and as far away as Australia.
Ticks are great travelers. They can catch a ride on a plane or a bird. They can be carried from one country or continent to another, attaching themselves to humans or their luggage. The disease they carry can be transmitted by blood transfusions and from mother to fetus, an infected fetus more likely to abort and, if born, to be diseased and die at an early age.
The doctors’ dilemma is they have been told early treatment with a short course of an antibiotic, usually Doxycycline, will cure Lyme disease. This may appear to be so but such treatment will not guarantee a recurrence will not occur, months or years later, without a further tick bite. This is especially so if more than one pathogen was in the bite.
That is not the only dilemma faced by the doctors because many of the blood tests to indicate Lyme disease are unreliable. A patient with negative results can be told they do not have Lyme disease when they indeed do. Treatment is then denied and the patients sentenced to an advancement of their disease(s) to a chronic form with increasing disability and death. Sadly, it is not unusual for patients to see 10 to 15 different doctors before a diagnosis is made. This is applicable to both the USA and the UK.
Diagnosis has to be made by taking a complete history of symptoms and physical signs elicited by a thorough examination, especially of the nervous system. For treatment to ameliorate some of the disabling symptoms, a prolonged course of antibiotics is necessary. Such treatments have shown success when prescribed by physicians specializing in the treatment of the tick-borne diseases and who have personally treated more than 5000 cases. Those who consider prolonged courses of antibiotics are harmful do not seem to apply the same judgement to other infectious diseases, such as Tuberculosis or AIDS, or to the use of prolonged courses of antibiotics for young people with acne.
A lot of expensive research is being done regarding what happens at the cellular level in the tick-borne diseases, but until repeatable, accurate tests are available to identify which pathogens are infecting a particular patient, research to show the effectiveness of particular treatments, is futile. Until that time, doctors are justified in diagnosing the tick-borne diseases clinically and ermpirically, treating with long-term antibiotics, judging the response over months rather than days. Long term exhibition of antibiotics is less likely to cause resistance to the antibiotics than short courses.
After penicillin with the advent of the antibiotic age, many considered we had conquered infectious diseases for good. How wrong they were. Emerging and changing infectious diseases now present an awesome challenge around the planet. In the fight against the harmful germs, we have not begun to win and great losses are to be expected. We may consider humans smart but the microbes have shown themselves to be even smarter in this present age.
This paper was originally presented to the Second National Lyme Convention held in Gettysburg PA on Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28, 2002. Reprinted by permission of Dr. McNeil.
Dr. Ted McNeil is an acadamician in the International Academy of Aviation and Space Medicine. He was a pioneer in International Medical Air Rescue and wrote the first text book on the subject. He also worked with NASA and designed the equipment for performing surgery in a weightless environment. Later, Dr McNeil worked as an emergency room physician in Connecticut. He is interested in all changing and emerging infectious diseases and gave a presentation on the subject to the Acadamy in Paris in September, 2001, in which he discussed tick-borne diseases among others.
Now retired and living in Florida, Dr. McNeil himself suffers from tick-borne diseases.