I am a Tombstone Tourist: someone who loves to wander cemeteries. I find it akin to visiting a museum: an opportunity to enjoy rarely seen sculpture, intricate carvings, and amazing architecture, all in a tranquil outdoor setting. This blog is about cemetery culture, art, history, issues of death, and genealogy - subjects of current relevance. I usually find something that intrigues me and makes me want to dig deeper. Care to join me? Read on...
Friday, May 15, 2015
Putting Lyme Disease in the Limelight
are well into the spring and in my region of the country the ticks seem to be
more numerous this year. While most people consider those creepy crawly
blood-suckers to be a nuisance, they can actually be devastatingly worse –
spreading Lyme disease, a complex, chronic illness that many times is not
is Lyme Disease Awareness Month; the perfect time to share information about
this under-reported and poorly recognized disease that can disable causing
arthritis, Bell’s palsy, radiculoneuropathy, meningitis,
encephalitis, and in rare cases, cardiac arrest.
disease was first noticed in the U.S. in 1975 when children in Lyme,
Connecticut started showing signs of what doctors’ thought was rheumatoid
arthritis. Researchers identified the spiral-shaped bacteria in 1982 and
realized that it was spread by the bite of the blacklegged deer tick. (Lyme
disease is not transmitted from person to person.)
Symptoms flare up about
a month after the initial bite and include inflammation around the tick bite
that may itch, or not; the telltale bulls-eye rash is not always present. In
fact, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, only three out of 10
people will exhibit the bulls-eye pattern. Flu-like symptoms are usually
reported – headache, low-grade fever, muscle aches and fatigue.
Lyme disease can mimic several other illnesses like multiple sclerosis,
Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, so misdiagnosis often occurs. Lyme disease affects
the heart, joints, nervous system and skin. If not treated, the symptoms will
flair up again within the next six months. One in 10 people develop
abnormalities of the heart but the majority do recover. About 10% of patients
experience neurological problems.
third stage of Lyme disease can occur from five months to five years after the
bite and usually affects large joints like the knees and hips. Death can occur
from Lyme disease. This chart from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows
the number of deaths that have occurred in the U.S. from Lyme disease and Rocky
Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), another tick-borne disease, from 2002 through
disease has been recorded in all 50 states in the U.S., but is most prevalent
in the northeastern part of the country. This map indicates the number of
reported cases from 1990 to 2013.
worst areas affected include New York with over 100,000 cases reported within
the past 23 years; Pennsylvania has had almost 77,000 cases; Connecticut
reported almost 62,0000 cases, and New Jersey has had over 59,000 cases. The
Midwest is also being affected, especially in Wisconsin with almost 29,000
cases, and Minnesota with just over 19,000 cases reported.
top 15 states battling Lyme disease are shown on this 2013 diagram. Lyme
disease is not just a rural problem, anywhere there is tall grass or woodsy
areas; think your local park, walking trails or nature preserves, ticks can reside. Urban areas are not “safe” zones.
disease is on the rise in Canada, largely because public awareness, diagnosis
and treatment have not been adequate. The first Canadian case of Lyme disease was recorded in 1977
when a southwestern Ontario girl was diagnosed with the disease, but Canadian officials have been slow to release the actual numbers of those suffering from the disease.
Lyme disease has been reported in over 80 other countries including Europe, Japan,
China and Australia.
best way to avoid getting Lyme disease is prevention.
Wear light colored clothing so that you can see ticks
Use an insect repellent that contains DEET
Do a full body check after coming in from outside on yourself, your children
and your pets
you’ve been outside all day, head to the shower within two hours of coming inside and check for ticks. Something to keep in mind when you wander the cemeteries this summer.