Since this is the time of year ticks become more active again, May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. It’s vital to be educated and prepared before heading outdoors, because Lyme disease can be devastating. And if you don’t think Lyme is in Texas–think again. It is here and it is an epidemic.
I know all too well, because I was bitten by ticks in San Antonio as a child and went undiagnosed for over 30 years. Fast forward many years, the pathogens in me went dormant and I became asymptomatic, then unknowingly gave Lyme and co-infections to my son during birth.
He suffered the greatest and longest with pages of unrelated physical and mental symptoms. I took him to over 30 doctors in Texas including infectious disease specialists, and they all missed it. Just like they missed it in me all those years.
Lyme and its co-infections are multi-symptom diseases caused by highly-evolved pathogens which are difficult to test, diagnose, and treat. Check out these statistics, tips, and tools to protect you and your family during tick season.
Statistics on Lyme disease
Lyme is a vector-borne disease and can be transmitted from ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, lice, or any biting bug. It can also be spread from mother to child during pregnancy and through breast milk, even if the mother is asymptomatic. This is called Congenital or Gestational Lyme.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are over 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease reported each year. Many experts believe this is sorely underreported, and the actual number could be as high as 1-2 million per year in the U.S. alone.
Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete (spiral shaped) bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) that can drill deep into the tissues, nervous system, and organs. The young nymph is about the size of a poppy seed and causes most human cases, but because the bite is painless, many people don’t realize they’ve been bitten.
Ticks can carry many different types of bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections. Some can be life-threatening, further complicating diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. Most Lyme patients have at least one co-infection, which can include Babesia, Mycoplasma, Bartonella, and Anaplasma, just to name a few.
Fewer than 50% of patients with Lyme disease recall a tick bite or any rash. Although the bullseye red rash is considered a classic sign, some people get different types of rashes or none at all.
Transmission of Lyme and other infections can take place in a matter of minutes, particularly if the tick is not removed properly.
Lyme is widely referred to as “The Great Imitator” because it can mimic ailments like Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Fibromyalgia, Autism (ASD), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Bipolar, Anxiety, and other health labels.
Lyme disease symptoms can be non-specific, vague, changeable, and migrate where adults may not even realize children are ill.
Lyme blood tests can be very inaccurate and many patients visit multiple doctors before being correctly diagnosed. The standard laboratory testing recommended by the CDC misses approximately half of the cases.
Protect yourself, your family, and your pets
I am proud to have consulted with Peoples Rx in putting together a convenient Tick Kit to help you be prepared this summer. Stop into your favorite Peoples location to build your own and be prepared to act fast if bitten by a tick, since time is of the essence. The items below are a good place to start protecting your family members–both humans and pets!
Repellent for clothes and shoes: Picaridin is very effective but is only for the clothes (not skin), and will last several washings.
Repellent for skin and pets: Wondercide is for your skin and pets, and is shown to be just as effective as DEET.
Stay out of tall grass and wood piles, where ticks are most common, and tuck your pant legs into your socks. Always take a shower and check for ticks after being in the great outdoors.
If you’ve been bitten
There is a right and a wrong way to remove a tick. Never squeeze the tick’s body, burn the body with a match, or smother it in nail polish remover. Ticks can regurgitate all the pathogens they contain into your bloodstream if you do any of these things. Instead, use needle nose tweezers to grab the tick gently between the body and the head and pull straight up, never twisting. Tweezers with a built in magnifying glass would be even easier.
Apply alcohol and then andrographis tincture and bentonite clay, to help pull out toxins. Top Lyme expert Dr. Steven Buhner also recommends homeopathic Ledum immediately and in the first several days after a bite.
Finally, go to an International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ILAIDS) trained doctor, called LLMDs and LLNDs (Lyme Literate Medical/Naturopathic Doctors) to get on antibiotics for the appropriate length of time (6 weeks) while you wait for the tick results.
Check out my full resource list here for more information, and listen to my family’s full story, including how we recovered with a cutting-edge therapy, on my episode of Peoples Rx’s podcast, The Cultivate Wellness Podcast. And be sure to visit Peoples Rx (all locations) to build your own Tick Kit so that you can protect your family this year.
If you or someone you know is already dealing with Lyme disease and/or its co-infections, check out the Lyme Disease Support Group that meets monthly at Peoples Rx South Lamar. Their next meeting is May 18.
Kelley Siliven was bitten by ticks in Texas infected with Lyme, Bartonella, and Babesia. Because of her battle with the disease, she is a Lyme patient advocate to help other families navigate the complexities of the disease and its co-infections.
Statistics pulled from:
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