Lyme Disease Facts
There is so much to learn about Lyme disease one doesn’t know where to start. But here is a quick fact sheet to help people learn the basic facts about Lyme disease.
1. Lyme Disease Tests can be Inaccurate
Lyme Tests do not have a very high accuracy rate. The two tiered standard testing that most doctors use miss between 35% -50% of Lyme infections. So if you have a negative Lyme test it does not mean you do not have Lyme disease. Some states have passed legislation to have physicians inform their patients that a negative Lyme test does not mean they do not have Lyme. [Source]
Less than 50% of Lyme patients ever recall seeing a rash at all. Some will get rashes that look like a “target” while others get hives, but many will get no rash at all. [Source]
3. Ticks are Tiny
Did you know that a nymph tick can be the size of the period at the end of this sentence? It’s true. Ticks go through four life cycles. . When a tick hatches from it’s egg as larvae it will next find it’s first meal to feed on, usually mice, deer or small rodents. This is when it enters the nymph stage. This is also when it can potentially pick up Lyme disease, from it’s host. Now it is able to spread the disease to other animals or humans.
Less than 50% of Lyme patients ever remember finding a tick on them. They hide in moist dark places too so they are hard to find. Common places for ticks to attach are armpits, groins, hairline and around your ankles. So be thorough when doing a tick check on yourself.
4. Different Ticks Pass Different Infections
Some patient clinics will ask you to bring the tick in. If they do not identify it was a deer tick they will tell you not to worry. This is a big medical mistake. Different ticks pass different infections. Here is a chart that will tell you which infections the different types of ticks can pass. See Chart Here. Some of the different infections ticks can pass to humans are Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Bartonella, Tick Paralysis, Powassan Virus and you can see more here. Sadly, each year new infections are being discovered.
5. You might not Know Right Away if you got Infected from a Tick Bite
Educate yourself on the symptoms to look for after a tick bite and make sure your doctor knows. Many will take prophylactic measures and treat you for the bite as to not risk the chance or chronic illness later. Also if your doctor offers you only a 2 pill course of Doxycyclene, make sure to show him this article and research on this treatment being proven not effective. Single dose of doxy after tick bite only prevents rash—not Lyme disease. Doxy also only covers Lyme, and ticks pass many infections, so ask for a full panel of tests for the co infections too. To be safest, you can recommend these testing labs, as all Lyme testing labs are not created equal. These labs specialize in tick born illnesses. Tick Borne Infection Testing Labs for Humans. Another extra measure for peace of mind is to send the tick into a specialty lab for testing. Where to Send a Tick for Testing.
Remember that each person will react differently to a Lyme infection. Many patients will get flu like symptoms such as fatigue and a headache that will last a couple day then go away, in the first week after an infection. But after that fades it may take weeks or months for the next stage of a Lyme infection to rear it’s ugly head. Once you are at this stage it may be very different for each patient. Learn more about the stages of Lyme disease here.
6. Lyme Disease often gets Misdiagnosed as other Illnesses
Known as the “Great Imitator” Lyme can be misdiagnosed as many other conditions and illnesses. Since each patients gets different symptoms it’s easy for medical professionals to overlook a possible Lyme disease diagnosis in their patients.
Lyme symptoms can vary from swollen joints, to painful muscles to seizures or paralysis. Some of the common misdiagnoses or other conditions that Lyme can lead to is Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Dementia, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and there are many more you can see here. Children are often diagnosed with ADHD and behavior disorders.
Whether these are actual misdiagnoses or if they are conditions that Lyme disease can lead to is a debate. Either way if you have been diagnosed with any of these you might want to learn more about and test for Lyme disease or the other tick borne infections. See the Connections between Lyme and these other Illnesses.
7. There is a proper safer way to Remove Ticks
Many times you will see false information spread on social media, some if it downright harmful. When removing a tick make sure you do NOT squeeze, twist or use any chemicals to remove a tick. Doing so may cause the tick to regurgitate it’s stomach contents into you which increases your risk for infection. Make sure to grab the tick as close to your skin as possible with tweezers and gently but firmly pull up slowly letting it’s barbs release from your skin. Then wash your skin with warm water and soap and put some peroxide on it. You can send the tick in for testing: Where to Send a Tick for Testing. Here is a more detailed post on Proper Tick Removal.
8. More than 300.000 people in the US alone are Infected each Year.
The CDC sent out a press release in 2013 stating that at least 300,000 new infections are reported each year. They also admit that these numbers are an under estimation of the real statistics. So be safe, learn tick prevention measures and be diligent in tick checks on you, your children and your pets.
9. May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month
Many states and countries have declared May Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Being that spring is one of the busiest time for ticks, although they are present all year, it is a good time to educate yourself and others about ticks, Lyme disease and the other tick borne infections that ticks pass. It is also a good time to lend a little extra support to a friend or family member who is suffering from Lyme disease. So send them a message, spread some awareness materials around social media to show them that you care. ♥
Have a safe and happy Spring everyone. Thank you for taking the time to educate yourself about Lyme disease. Stay safe and enjoy the summer!