Six Facts You Should Know About Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a more complicated and nuanced illness than has been previously recognized. Fallon and Sotsky’s experience with the neuropsychological manifestations of Lyme, combined with their insights into the current patient experience, make this book a significant addition to the literature. A well-organized, comprehensive treatment of Lyme disease and the associated issues that patients face.

~ John Aucott, director, Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center

Summer has officially arrived, and outdoor enthusiasts are hitting the trails with bug spray in tow. Most know that the warmer weather increases the risk of getting Lyme disease. But what do we actually know about ticks and Lyme disease? In Conquering Lyme Disease: Science Bridges the Great Divide, Brian A. Fallon and Jennifer Sotsky give an up-to-the-minute overview of the science that is transforming the way we address this complex illness. Today’s post highlights six fact about the disease found in the book.

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  1. Lyme disease was discovered by a dermatologist in Wisconsin in 1970.
    Before its discovery, young patients with symptoms were reported as having “juvenile rheumatoid arthritis’. (pg 9)
  2. Lyme disease is more common than you might think!
    According to a report by CDC published in 2013, the number of Americans diagnosed with Lyme disease annually is 300,000. (pg 24)
  3. Getting bitten by a tick does not mean you have Lyme disease. 
    Finding a tick on your body, and even having a small bump or a read rash several hours after a tick bite does not mean you have Lyme disease! This may be only due to hypersensitivity. These hypersensitivity reactions are usually less than two inches in diameter and typically disappear within twenty-four to forty-eight hours. In contrast, an early primary Lyme rash usually increases in size over time and typically first appears days to weeks later. (pg 31)
  4. Ticks commonly known as ‘deer ticks’ are easily missed as they are light colored and as small as a freckle. (pg 264)
  5. Environmental conditions greatly affect the density and distribution of tick-borne diseases.
    1.  In the United States there are now over thirty million deer, whereas in the early 1900s in the United States it is estimated that there were only about 500,000 deer. This is a favorable scenario for the adult tick. (pg 267)
    2. When our society was agrarian and hunting and farming with wide open fields were the norm, the life cycle of the tick was interrupted because there were fewer small and large mammals on which they could prey. Given the return of the land to forest and the increase in deer and small mammals, the late twentieth and early twenty-first century has seen a marked increase in the density and distribution of tick and consequently tick-borne diseases. (pg 267)

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