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The Dangers of Lyme Disease

As summer approaches and East End families spend more time outside, one danger we all need to be aware of is Lyme disease.

 

Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that is contracted from deer ticks, usually occurring from May through July. There are a few protective steps that will lessen the chances of getting this disease.

 Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that ticks contract from biting an infected animal, usually mice or deer. The tick can then pass the disease along to a human when biting skin. Ticks are usually found on the tips of grass blades or brush, and they use that cover to crawl on to you when you pass by. Lyme disease is a very real threat on Eastern Long Island and New York State at large where 2,385 cases were confirmed last year.[1]

 To minimize your risk of being bitten, you should wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants in wooded or grassy areas to limit your skin exposure. These clothes should be light in color so the black ticks are easier to spot and remove. Ticks are tiny, so look closely for them after coming inside. Ticks tend to latch on to the backs of your knees, behind your ears, your scalp and your back, so make sure you pay particular attention to those areas.1

 You should also be aware that deer ticks often attach themselves to pets to find their way into homes. After walks, owners should give their pets a thorough once over to make sure no ticks are present. It is also recommended that owners check with their veterinarian about products to reduce tick exposure.1

 An infected deer tick must feed for an entire blood meal to infect the host, which can take up to 48 hours.[2] If you find a tick, remove it as soon as possible. Use tweezers or a specialized tick-removal tool and pull the tick in a steady, upward motion away from the skin, without jerking or twisting the body.[3] Disinfect the bite area and wash your hands. If a tick has already embedded itself in the skin, it needs to be taken care of immediately.

 There are many symptoms of Lyme disease and they tend to vary from patient to patient. Generally, the first symptom is a slowly expanding rash extending from the bite site in the shape of a “bull’s eye.” Other symptoms of Lyme disease can include chills, fever, fatigue, headache, a stiff neck, jaw discomfort and pain or stiffness in muscles and joints. Symptoms can be treated with antibiotics and the earlier the treatment begins, the easier it is to prevent long-term effects, which can affect the heart or central nervous system. Contact your doctor at the first sign of Lyme disease.3

 Current law does not stipulate that Lyme disease and other tick borne related pathogens be covered under individual and group health insurance policies. Proper long term care is essential. Consequently, Assemblyman Thiele has introduced legislation (A.7696-A) which would require health insurers to provide coverage for long term medical care for Lyme disease and other tick borne related pathogens.

 By taking the proper precautions, you can greatly reduce your risk of contracting Lyme disease. For further information, visit the New York State Department of Health website (www.health.ny.gov), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website (www.hhs.gov) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (www.cdc.gov).

 

[1] www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/chartstables/reportedcases_statelocality.html

[2] www.mayoclinic.com/health/lyme-disease/DS00116/DSECTION=causes

[3] www.cdc.gov/lyme/removal/index.html

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Emily Bee May 19, 2012 at 06:24 PM
20 years ago I visited an orthopedic surgeon in Southampton after having stiffness and severe pain in the right knee. After tests proved negative for trama, I happened to mention I was on a hiking trip upstate the month before. I neglected to mention a bullseye rash on the back of the knee that faded a week before I visited him. On a hunch the doctor sent me across the street to Southampton Hospita for a lyme test and it came back positive. A 30 day course of doxyclcine and all was fine. In those days the internet was not available for people to be aware of the dangers. My insurance paid for all, but of course it was caught at the outset and I needed no long term treatment. It's hard to believe insurance companies do not pay for this.
TTTT May 19, 2012 at 08:25 PM
My husband never saw the tick, but sure enough had a huge bulls-eye red rash on his arm, and even before test results came in, the doctor put him on the powerful medication that made him sick as a dog but prevented Lyme's. I'm watching out for it ... pulled one off me the other day, no rash or fever or chills (knock wood) yet and YES it came off easily (I saved it in a baggie) and cleaned the area with alcohol and am watching the area carefully. My dad had Lyme's twice in a 15 year period and never had the rash, but had flu-like symptoms, and lost his mind the first time (which came back, after he lost a lot of weight, and they couldn't figure out waht was wrong with him and treated him coincidentally with antibiotics) and had congestive heart failure the 2nd time ... it's a frightening thing. Bloodwork at Stony Brook identified the problem as two strains of Lyme, one very old, and one new. It's a horrible risk out here. And you cannot totally avoid the bugs. They crawl in under windows and doors and on everything. Just keeping an eye out and fast treatment helps.
TTTT May 19, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Rather than scolding someone for posting information you may think is incorrect, it might be better to post another source. Try the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/Lyme/ It's thorough and user-friendly.
amagansett voter May 19, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Below a simple pamphlet on Lyme Disease from CDC which clearly indicates the vectors (mice, DEER) for the ticks causing the disease. The government should attack the cause as well as the effect. It is more beneficial to prevent the disease, then waiting to deal with its sometimes debilitating effects. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/lyme/lyme_brochure.pdf
John F August 09, 2013 at 12:50 PM
Hello, I am a professional and licensed bowhunter with over 25 years of experience on the east end of Long Island. If you are a property owner or know a property owner who has a deer nuisance problem please contact me. I have helped numerous property owners greatly reduce their deer nuisance problem. We treat the property as if it were our own and leave it the way we found it. We are very responsible and ethical. Thanks! email: jforsyt1@verizon.net

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