Read the Original Article – http://wisdom-magazine.com/Article.aspx/2738/
by Katina I. Makris, CCH, CIH
Historical trends in the USA show that a massive infectious disease epidemic, with life altering repercussions, has surfaced every few decades. Over the past 150 years we have weathered malaria, yellow fever, small pox, tuberculosis, diphtheria, polio and HIV. An initial outbreak surfaces with a rapid bloom, surging across the populace. Traditionally, science has lingered ‘behind the curve’ at the onset and hundreds of thousands succumb or are maimed by the infectious agent. Fear, suffering and despair run rampant. Fortunately an effective treatment or preventative measure (i.e. vaccine) for the illness has hastily been discovered. The pandemic quells, and fear subsides and life returns to normal. Guess what? We are in the ‘behind the curve’ phase with the current epidemic of our era – Lyme disease.
The USA is currently in the throes of a swiftly moving Lyme disease epidemic. Hundreds of cases are contracted daily, and the tick population, the primary insect carrier, is multiplying in proportions beyond historically normal. A realistic anxiety over potential infection is rising, nationwide. Climate changes over the past decade have yielded milder temperatures in the USA’s higher latitudes, enabling ticks to now ‘winter over’ in northern New England, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Canada and mountainous elevations of the Alleghenies, Sierras, Cascades, Rocky Mountains. Multiple week stretches of minus 20 degrees are now rare, not killing the ticks off as in the past. Additionally, migratory bird patterns have introduced Lyme disease to southern regions such as Florida, Texas, California, even as far distant as Uruguay and Scandinavia. Lyme disease is found in eighty nine countries of the world.
Lyme disease, transmitted by a bite from a tick, is a bacterial infection caused by an organism know as borrelia burgdorferi. There are also variant tick-borne co-infections caused by parasites, bacteria and micoplasmas, manifesting minor yet detectable symptoms. Borrelia, the primary, is a spirochete or corkscrew bacteria, which is in the same family as syphilis, yet is considered to be stronger and more virulent. Like syphilis, Lyme initially starts out with seemingly mild symptomatology, but over time, if untreated, it can cause devastating effects to the central nervous system, heart, kidneys, skeletal and immune system with sometimes permanent repercussions.
The borrelia bacteria replicates in the bloodstream every six weeks, entrenching itself deeply within the host, causing hide-and-seek outbreaks of symptoms and remission, akin to malaria, confounding patients and practitioners not savvy about Lyme. Early infections can be addressed with aggressive antibiotic treatment.
Many medical professionals, depending on their locale, are not familiar with either acute Lyme disease symptoms nor are they educated about the more complex and serious chronic forms of this illness, as the CDC has yet to recognize the chronic form of Lyme, nor promote CLD guidelines for medical professionals. The CDC by their own admission estimates 300,000 cases of Lyme are contracted in the USA annually and a mere 10% are properly diagnosed, leaving over 250,000 annually with misdiagnoses, such as fibromyalgia, Lupus, chronic fatigue syndrome, MS, migraines, learning disabilities, bi-polar disorders, Parkinson’s, heart arrhythmia’s and more, when the Lyme organism is the true culprit. Reasoning suggests well over 2,000,000 people in the USA are afflicted with the chronic form of Lyme. Immediate attention, funding, research and education are vital to address the misunderstandings and ravages of this exploding epidemic, which has surpassed HIV in its growth rate, as the number one infectious illness in the USA.
The USA eastern seaboard, Ohio River valley, northern California and the Pacific northwest are under fierce assault. Individuals and pets come into proximity with this insect. The best first step is PREVENTION. Below are some salient points to heed.
Be aware of environments ticks inhabit, even when vacationing, so you don’t wander blithely into Lyme disease territory unprepared, this includes: grassy meadows, beach dune grass, forests, hiking trails, shrubbery abutting forests, thick vegetation of golf courses, grasses of marshlands and empty building lots. Spring and autumn are ‘hatch out’ times for new ticks. After a rain their numbers can be higher, too. Be alert.
When hiking, fishing, camping, golfing, even gardening wear long sleeves on your limbs when possible, as well as a hat. Tuck your pant legs into your socks. Tuck long hair under your hat. Wear light colored clothing, as it is easier to spot a tick. Spray your clothing with a tick repellant. The best repellant ingredient is called permethrin (a chemical derivative from chrysanthemum). However, it should not touch the skin. DEET is a moderate tick repellant. The essential oil, rose geranium, lemon balm and eucalyptus are natural offerings.
When returning indoors, remove all clothing, and dry on HOT heat in the dryer for fifteen minutes. High temps can kill the ticks (hence not often found in dry deserts). But, hot water washing will not do the trick. Scan your entire body, smoothing your hands over every part, searching for any ticks. They gravitate to warm, soft areas such as armpits, groin, nape of neck or the hair. If you live in a Lyme dense area, teach your children to do nightly tick checks, just as you brush your teeth, including feeling through the hair. This extra nightly measure can be critical in ‘catching’ an early infection.
Have your pets vaccinated with the ‘Lyme vax’. It has been used successfully for over a decade with millions of animals. Pets can also be protected with a monthly repellant such as Frontline. Brush and examine your pets regularly for ticks. Wash and dry their bedding frequently on HOT. Avoid letting pets sleep in your bed, since ticks can crawl from them to you.
If a tick has embedded itself in your body, remove it with tweezers held as close to the skin as possible. Do not yank or twist the tick when extracting. Pull slowly off, so as not to detach the body, leaving the head lodged, this could lead to a local skin infection. The tiny deer tick is the most infected variety (up to 75% in certain ranges). They are pin head or freckle sized, seemingly innocuous to look at, yet larger when engorged with blood. The bigger dog and wood ticks are culprits too. If you extract a deer tick, let your GP know, and watch for symptoms over the ensuing two weeks.
Early symptoms include a varying constellation of: headaches, stiff neck, chills, mild fever, clammy or sweaty sleep, fatigue, muscle/flu like aches, joint pain, back or hip aches, ‘stretch marks’ on the back, dizziness, Bell’s palsy, anxiety, heart palpitations, sore soles, weakness and 50% of the cases show a reddish ‘bulls eye’ rash. Get to a physician immediately!
A word of extra caution involves lab testing for Lyme disease. The standard lab test most local and regional facilities run for Lyme disease has over a 60% error rate. They are very inaccurate, giving many false negatives, leaving people sick when they need treatment. A LLMD (Lyme literate) physician will use one of the three USA Lyme specialty labs, with more attuned testing. These newer labs and tests are helping to turn thousands of lives around.
This illness can be decimating when not treated early. It can reek havoc, leaving individuals and families in various states of physical, emotional, financial collapse and despair. This is the epidemic of our era asking us to unite the two hands of health care – the diagnostic and pharmaceutical weaponry of conventional medicine, with the restorative support of natural medicine. A multiplex approach of pharmaceuticals, nutritive supplements, and herbal medicine brings the most positive outcome in chronic cases urging us to renovate our healthcare paradigm.
All forces must align now to amend the casualties of this misrepresented epidemic. The hope is that well funded, focused scientific research could arrest the epidemic and in turn ‘unlock’ the link to many illnesses, such as MS and rheumatoid arthritis, as being caused by the various organisms of Lyme disease. More real cures could potentially follow.
If your doctor feels ‘relaxed’ or uninformed about the seriousness of Lyme, find another one. Please pay attention and take care of yourself and loved ones. This illness should not be glossed over. Nationwide Lyme disease support groups and associations can be of assistance. See lymenet.org or lymedisease.org.