Lyme Disease Continues To Flood Chester County Communities
Lyme disease has permeated our regionâespecially Chester County, with its exploding deer population. Local families are paying the price.
EDITORâS NOTE: To celebrate the magazineâs 25th anniversary, weâre highlighting standout stories from our archives addressing topics that define our region. This feature was originally published in the June 2011 issue of Main Line Today.
The Sheas are a Lyme disease family through and through. They even had bright-green âLyme Lives Hereâ flags made. They planned on flying them from the mailboxes of affected families in their rural Coatesville neighborhoodâthat is, until undiagnosed residents and local real estate agents got wind of it.
Chester County has a notoriously high incidence of Lyme disease. Ray Shea is from West Bradford Township. His wife, Jayne, grew up in Glenmoore, where her mother, another Lyme victim, still lives. Their earliest exposure to deer ticks came in their backyards. Ray once worked at an orchard. Jayne lived next to an abandoned one, played there and always returned home covered in ticks.
Ray is a gastrointestinal Lyme patient. Jayneâs joints are infringed. She sits in a whirlpool for an hour each morning before caring for their 21-year-old son, Jared. Lyme has permanently incapacitated Jared, who is confined to a wheelchair and needs a device to talk.
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Whats So Hard About Finding A Lyme Doctor Anyhow
If youve landed on this post, you probably already know the answer. But for those who are at the beginning stages of investigating Lyme disease, let me fill you in.
You see, most doctors simply dont understand Lyme disease and some are certainly not humble enough to admit they dont really understand this disease. Many doctors dont even believe chronic Lyme exists.
To make matters worse,testing is unreliable and notoriously inaccurate, particularly the standard tests most doctors will run. If you happen to test positive for Lyme on one of those standard tests, the doctors will most likely throw a couple weeks of antibiotics at you and call it good.
Yeahthats not so good. And likely it wont help much at all.
When it comes right down to it, theres been precious little research done on this complex disease. Doctors at large have not been educated about what the good research out there actually says about Lyme. All they know is the outdated and ineffective guidelines passed down from the CDC.
The doctors that are really making an impact are those that have gone out of their way to dig into the research. Theyve spent time educating themselves and working intimately with their patients .
Do Your Research And Get Referrals
You can learn a lot just by researching doctors and reading patient reviews online. You can also connect with other patients through local and online support groups for various tick-borne diseases. Asking other patients to recommend or share their own experiences with different doctors can be particularly helpful when youre trying to locate and learn about physicians who specialize in various tick-borne illnesses.
The following sites can connect you to online support-group forums or help you identify different tick-borne support groups in the United States:
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Lyme Disease In An African American Child With Downs Syndrome
Welcome to another Inside Lyme Podcast with your host Dr. Daniel Cameron. In this episode, Dr. Cameron discusses the case of a 3-year-old African American child with Downs syndrome, developmental delays and disseminated Lyme disease. By Dr. Daniel Cameron “A case of disseminated Lyme disease in a child with skin of color” was published by Bax and colleagues in the journal Pediatric Dermatology.¹ The child, who had trisomy 21 (Downs
How You Can Prevent Lyme Disease
While this past winter may have been frightful, researchers have found that even frigid temperatures wont make a sizable dent in the deer tick population. Knowing where, how and when Lyme disease is most often contracted can help you prevent it as these pesky, pint-sized carriers crawl out of their hiding places.
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The Late Signs Of Lyme Disease
If Lyme Disease is left untreated and undiagnosed then some further symptoms can develop. While it can be just a few months before the later signs make an appearance, it can also take years before you see them. These late signs include:
- Severe swelling and pain in the joints, in particular the knees
- Issues with memory
- Tingling hands
This is why it is vital you see a medical professional about your possibility of having Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease is a long-term illness that can be severe.
Make sure you receive a swift and accurate diagnosis after a tick bite and see us here at AFC Urgent Care West Chester. We have experience in diagnosing and treating a range of illnesses and are on hand when you need us.
You dont need an appointment. Simply walk into our center and receive professional, efficient care that ensures that you are feeling better and that you receive a full diagnosis. All without spending time waiting in an hospital emergency room.
Treatment Starts With Accurate Diagnosis
The only way to get the proper treatment for your tick-borne disease is to get the right diagnosis in the first place and one of the best ways to do that is, if possible, to see a physician whos experienced with tick-borne diseases. Accurate diagnosis also requires high quality testing at a reputable lab. Learn more about why doctors and patients trust the tests offered by IGeneX.
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What To Bring With You
You will need to bring the following items:
- Your insurance card
- A photo ID
- Previous medical records, if any.
- List of all your medications, including the dose and the times you take them. Alternatively, you may want to just bring them with you.
- A list of all your concerns so that you may discuss them with the scheduled physician.
Pa Woman Says She Was Sickened By Risky Lyme Treatment
Ashley Pettis started to have trouble concentrating at the end of spring semester in 2013 at Lancaster Bible College, and soon began to feel sluggish and achy.
Ashley Pettis started to have trouble concentrating at the end of spring semester in 2013 at Lancaster Bible College, and soon began to feel sluggish and achy.
Exhausted by the end of the summer, she was found to have mononucleosis. But later, she still felt sick, and went that fall to Haverford Wellness Center in the Montgomery County town of Harleysville, seeking answers.
Clinicians there said she had late-stage Lyme disease, a chronic form of the tick-borne illness that is diagnosed in an estimated 300,000 Americans a year.
The treatment they administered was controversial: five months of heavy-duty oral and intravenous antibiotics costing tens of thousands of dollars that her insurance would not cover. In June 2014, suffering severe abdominal pain, she landed in the Grand View Hospital emergency room, where physicians removed her gallbladder and delivered a shocker:
Pettis did not have Lyme disease at all.
Now Pettis, 22, and her father are suing the Haverford Wellness Center and Domenick Braccia, the self-described “Lyme literate” physician who treated her there. They allege that Braccia was negligent and reckless, administering an unproven and harmful treatment.
One fact not in dispute: Medicine has a long way to go in figuring out the riddle of Lyme disease, and its diagnosis and treatment.
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Identify Doctors Trained In The Diagnosis And Treatment Of Tick
You can access a variety of online resources and directories to locate doctors who are specifically trained in identifying and treating tick-borne illnesses. These do not have to be infectious disease specialists they can be physicians from any practice area who simply have extensive experience with tick-borne diseases.
It is particularly important to find a Lyme expert if you suspect that you may have Lyme disease, since it is the most frequently misdiagnosed of all tick-borne diseases. Finding a Lyme-literate medical doctor a physician who is familiar with the vast range of symptoms that may indicate infection at various stages of the disease, as well as potential coinfections and other complexitiescan help ensure that you get the right treatment, right away.
To find a doctor who is also a Lyme expert, you may want to explore the following resources:
Note: Some of these organizations may require you to submit a form or create a login to access their databases.
What Is The Best Treatment For Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is treatable and can be cured in most people, but its vital to begin treatment with oral antibiotics as early as possible. Dr. Ramos and Ms. Sokoloski may prescribe doxycycline, amoxicillin, cefuroxime, or another antibiotic to cure the infection.
They may also recommend supportive therapies that help your body fight the infection and heal more quickly, like intravenous nutrition therapy to boost your bodys natural healing ability and high doses of vitamin C.
Lyme disease treatment will be the same even if the disease spreads to other parts of your body. Most of the problems caused by Lyme disease, including arthritis, are cured with comprehensive treatment.
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Is It Really Lyme
Some doctors believe these patients are simply reporting symptoms commonly seen in the general population or those of a secondary condition such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. This assumption lacks proof, counters Minnesota family practice doctor Elizabeth L. Maloney, in a 2016 article, Controversies in Persistent Lyme Disease, published in the Journal of Infusion Nursing, given that there are no tests of cure for Lyme disease or biomarkers that can identify the presence of PLDS. The bulk of the evidence, she adds, generally supports the group of physicians who believe that such symptoms are most likely directly attributable to the previous Lyme infection and represent treatment failure.
Providing a glimpse of what life is like for many following a Lyme diagnosis is a published survey of 1,087 people. Dr. Maloney notes, 72 percent rated their health as fair or poor compared with 16 percent of a general population of similar age. They averaged 20 days of poor physical and 15 days of poor mental health per month. Thirty-nine percent had stopped working, and an additional 28 percent had reduced their work hours. Thirty-nine percent had spent at least $5,000 out of pocket for Lyme-related expenses.
Weve had some children who needed to be in the intensive care unit with life-threatening complications.Billl Moore
What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme
In the acute stage, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Chronic Headache
- Stiff neck
In the chronic stage, you may also experience:
Without treatment, Lyme disease can eventually cause a range of other symptoms. Among the most common are weakness or numbness in your limbs and neurological disorders.
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Finding A Good Lyme Doctor
I was one of the lucky ones.
After over a year of my general doctor running tests and sending me to different specialists, I tentatively questioned if Lyme disease might be worth investigating.
My doctor agreed: it was a good idea. But he also admitted that he knew the tests were terribly unreliable and Id need a good Lyme doctor to help me figure out if this was indeed causing all of my mysterious symptoms.
He referred me to a colleague who helped guide me through the early stages of Lyme testing and getting my diagnosis.
Ill forever be grateful for my doctors honesty. He knew he didnt understand Lyme well enough. He knew certain tests were sadly unreliable. And he was gracious enough to help me search for answers when most doctors would have scoffed.
Lyme Arthritis In Children Can Present Throughout The Year
The studys objective was to evaluate the seasonality of pediatric Lyme disease in three endemic regions in the United States, writes Sundheim. Participants had been treated at 8 different medical centers throughout the Northeast and UpperMidwest. Of the 690 children with Lyme disease, 77 had a single EM lesion, 247 had early disseminated disease, and 366 had arthritis, wrote the authors. Children with early and early-disseminated Lyme disease
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What Is Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease today is not what it was 20 years ago, and there is a great deal of outdated information. Conventionally, doctors would be looking for a bulls-eye rash, flu-like symptoms, and a story related to being in the woods. If we checked all the boxes, the physician would diagnose Lyme Disease, possibly run a blood test, and treat it with necessary antibiotics.
However, Lyme and its diagnosis and treatment are very different now. Lyme is no longer confined to the Northeastern United States anymore. The organism that causes Lyme called Borrelia Burgdorferi has morphed over the years. In addition, there are hundreds of other tick-borne diseases from other bacteria, viruses, and fungi in the same tick. One bite can cause many infections. One can easily get Lyme without a rash or possibly with the smallest of rashes in a belly button or groin area, without ever seeing it. It is possible to have been infected without any memory of being bitten by a tick, or you may have knowledge of being bit but never developed a rash. In either case, Lyme disease can absolutely develop. This is typically because the infected tick is usually in a nymph stage, too small to detect. All of this makes diagnosis very challenging.
If you suspect Lyme, the sooner you get help, the easier it is to make a speedy recovery.
Advanced Care For Infectious Diseases
Penn State Health is known for advanced medical expertise. As an academic medical center, we see patients with even the most complex and rare diseases. That means you work with an experienced team thats knowledgeable about your condition. Families choose us for our:
- Advanced expertise in all types of infectious disease and complete care in one place
- Proven experience treating HIV/AIDS, with our cross-functional team approach that brings together doctors, nurses, nurse coordinators, dietitians and substance abuse/prevention counselors to ensure complete care and support
- In 2018, our HIV/AIDS program was awarded additional funding for medical case management. Medical case management provides support outside of the clinic to help meet clients basic needs such as food and housing so our patients can better focus on their health. These support services are provided to eligible individuals in the following counties:Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntington, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry and York.
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Lyme Disease Is Your Worst Body Hacker
Lyme disease is debilitating and often misdiagnosed. The CDC estimates nearly 300,000 new cases annually, misrepresented due to lack of reporting or potentially misdiagnosed.
Also called borreliosis, Lyme disease is caused by the Borrelia Burgdorferi bacteria. It can proliferate to several areas in the body through the transmission to humans by a tick bite.
The disease can hide and suppress your natural immune system. It is one of the most difficult diseases to identify, as it mimics other illnesses.
Sadly, our home region of southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey are not spared from the threat of Lyme Disease.
Since it is especially prevalent in our area, understanding the symptoms of Lyme disease is the first step towards the ability to overcome any complications that may arise.
In the case of Lyme disease suspicions, it is not uncommon to potentially see patients with multiple problems in their body ranging in severity and degree, including:
- Neurological problems such as headaches, migraines, or lack of coordination
- Poor short term memory
- Speech difficulties
Typically these symptoms come and go, hitting patients with different strengths. The main issue with Lyme is that many of the symptoms mimic other conditions, making it difficult to pinpoint and identify by name.
Protect Your Pets And Yourself
As a veterinarian at the VCA Fox Chapel Animal Hospital, Amanda Resek was one of the first to see the coming tide of Lyme disease. It really hit the fan here in 2010. We saw a huge spike in Lyme then. Patient after patient would come in with fever, lack of appetite and joint pain. Most tested positive for Lyme, she says.
Whenever a physician or pediatrician walked in the door, she warned them to be on the lookout for Lyme in their human patients. Back then, Resek recalls, they werent yet seeing it but that would soon change.
Fortunately, Resek has noticed a decline in the rate of symptomatic patients over the past few years. She attributes this to more awareness and a more effective generation of tick-killing products. She highly recommends the Seresto collar or topical K9 Advantix for dogs . If we dont have our patients on adequate tick control, they are probably bringing ticks into the house, she says. Even if a pet only steps outside into a tiny backyard, they can get a tick, Resek says, as tick-carrying mice are everywhere.
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