The little black bug is back. Latest reports show that cases of tick bites and consequent Lyme disease diagnoses are now on the rise.
Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the country. It is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which is passed on to humans through exposure to an infected black-legged tick, otherwise known as the deer tick.
Boston Family Infected
Three members of a family in Topsfield, Massachusetts got bitten by the notorious disease-causing ticks and were diagnosed with Lyme disease.
Alexandra Reardon, 22, said she's been to at least 30 doctors in search for a cure for her medical dilemmas, which included serious migraines and joint pain. It took a while before one doctor suspected she had Lyme disease and sent her to get tested.
"I never pulled a tick off myself. I never would've thought I would've had Lyme until one doctor believed I did," she said.
Soon after, her mother, Michelle, and her 18-year-old brother, Nicholas, who were suffering from similar symptoms, tested positive for Lyme disease, too. Now they're going through rigorous treatment, which involves a regimen of 36 pills per day.
The Reardon family recalls seeing a number of ticks on their dog after they let it run freely in the wooded area near their home.
Lyme Disease Hot Spots In The United States
Based on data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme disease is not a nationwide epidemic, as its focus is mainly in the northeast and upper Midwest.
In 2015, 95 percent of confirmed Lyme disease cases in the country were from 14 states — including Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Maine, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin.
Experts from the U.S. Geological Survey believe the lower temperature and higher humidity in the northern regions are to blame.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease To Watch Out For
Lyme disease can ruin one's life in a snap.
In its advanced stages, this tick-borne infection can lead to irreversible and debilitating conditions, such as facial palsy or paralysis.
The CDC recommends people who live or have recently traveled to tick-prone areas mentioned above to watch out for the first tell-tale signs of Lyme disease, which can appear anywhere from three up to 30 days after the tick bite.
Aside from fever, chills, and swollen lymph nodes, also check all body parts for its signature erythema migrans or EM rash, particularly hard-to-see areas, such as the groin, armpits, and scalp.
Occurring in 70 to 80 percent of Lyme disease patients, the EM rash usually has a bull's eye appearance, may feel warm to the touch, may expand little by little up to 12 inches (30 cm), and may appear in other areas of the body.