More and more cases of Lyme disease are being reported in several parts of the United States as the warming weather has made it prime season for the tick-borne disease.
In Baltimore, Dr. John Aucott, director of the new Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's rheumatology division, reported having diagnosed at least one patient every day since the past few weeks.
In Rhode Island, 29-year-old David D'Iorio has been in the hospital for about a week now, after being brought there July 2 when he passed out at work. David's mother Debi said it scared her when the doctors advised David might possibly require a pacemaker.
David, who works as a landscaper, was bitten some time last month. According to his mother, he was experiencing a lot of headaches and pains in the neck and back, and has just not been feeling well for a couple of weeks. Debi has yet to hear more about how her son is doing.
In south Boston, the growing deer population has greatly caused a rise in Lyme cases in Plymouth, Norfolk and Bristol county towns.
According to the Department of Public Health, the disease-ridden ticks have also infested the seaside towns of Marshfield, Hingham, Scituate and Duxbury, as well as the inland communities of Middleboro, Brockton and Taunton. Health officials have declared Lyme disease an epidemic, due to the growing deer population and increasing number of cases reported in Massachusetts.
Because of her son's condition, Rhode Island mother Debi said that she is now reading more and learning about Lyme disease. While she recalled the doctors telling her that the disease "short-circuits" the heart, she is positive that medicine can help others treat the disease before it is too late. Especially during the summer, people should be more aware of ways to prevent the disease.
When detected early enough, Lyme disease can be treated in about two to four weeks with antibiotics. Its symptoms, which include severe pain in the joints and muscles, fatigue and cognitive difficulties, may last for months or even years.
Where and when it becomes increasingly spreading, Lyme disease can be prevented. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests simple steps families and household members can take as a protection for the tick-borne epidemic. These include: knowing where ticks can be found (in the grassy and wooded areas of the outdoors where it is moist and humid), using repellents with DEET on skin and clothing, using repellents with permethrin on clothing and gear, performing daily tick checks and removing them from clothing and gear using tweezers.
Photo: frankieleon | Flickr