The Little Bite Cost Me Quite A Lot Says Hawthorn Hollow Naturalist
A tick clung to Nancy Carlsons hip after a workday spent outside in 2013.
It wasnt abnormal.
I pull ticks off all the time, its not a big deal, Nancy Carlson, a naturalist at Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum on Green Bay Road, said.
She was taught as a naturalist that a bulls-eye rash should raise concern about contracting Lyme disease. When she was bitten, it never appeared. READ MORE.
Lyme Disease In Wisconsin
Lyme disease in Wisconsin is a growing problem. When winters are warmer, the tick population increases, creating more risk. The Wisconsin Department of Health reports that there were 38,000 cases reported in the state between 1980 and 2015. We treat many people in our region for this disease at our functional medicine clinic near Milwaukee.
Lyme disease is transmitted to humans by infected black legged or deer ticks. The ticks get the disease from biting infected animals. Lyme disease in Wisconsin and the rest of the country is usually caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacterial spirochete. In 2013, health department officials noted that a rare species of bacteria, Borrelia mayonii, was also causing some infections.
Do All Tick Bites Cause Lyme Disease
No, not all tick bites cause Lyme disease. Only deer ticks can spread the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. And most people bitten by one of these ticks dont usually get Lyme disease because:
- Only a small number of these ticks are infected.
- An infected tick must be attached for at least 12 days to pass the bacteria.
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The Most Accurate Lyme Disease Test
Many of the patients we see have already been tested and told they didnt have Lyme disease but continued to suffer from classic Lyme symptoms.
When we re-test these individuals with our extremely sensitive Lyme test, almost all cases are confirmed to be infected with Lyme. This is due to the sensitivity of the Lyme test we use.
‘a Rich Person’s Disease’
Since chronic Lyme is not a recognized disease, it’s difficult to get insurance coverage, so patients are usually stuck paying out of pocket for treatment.
Pauley, who lives in Woodstock, Illinois, is still searching for affordable treatments. Her dementia-like symptoms made it impossible to continue working as a veterinary assistant, and she quit her veterinary clinic job in 2020. Previously, she had quit her physician assistant job in La Crosse and moved back to Illinois.
“It was hard,” she said. “I went from the middle-upper class to the poverty line.”
She went to see a Lyme-literate doctor in Milwaukee in August, when she was also suspected to have Bartonella. Pauley was charged $525 per hour for the initial consultation fee, not counting testing fees and supplements. She was irritated to hear the doctor refer to it as “a rich person’s disease.”
“It’s hard to understand any doctors that charge like Beverly Hills lifestyle out in the Midwest,” she said. “We’re not celebrities, and I don’t get paid 30 million per film.”
Stevens said her average costs out of pocket range from $25,000 to $50,000 a year. “It was a huge strain on us,” she said. “This is why a lot of people can’t get better, because they can’t afford it.”
Cashman knows the financial burdens chronic Lyme patients bear, too.
Although all five women interviewed by Wisconsin Watch have tried unconventional treatments, they say they are skeptical about anyone who claims their chronic illness can be cured quickly.
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Diagnosing Lyme Disease In Wisconsin Is Still Difficult
Even though our state has one of the highest rates of Lyme disease, practitioners still have difficulty diagnosing Lyme disease in Wisconsin. The bacteria that invade humans after they have been bitten can affect the skin, muscles, joints, nervous system, cardiovascular system, ocular tissue, sinus tissue, gastrointestinal tract and lungs.
Lyme disease is known as the great mimicker, and practitioners who are not very familiar with the disease often make the wrong diagnosis. To further complicate things, the disease affects each person differently, leading to many missed diagnoses of Lyme disease in Wisconsin and across the country.
How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed
It can be hard for doctors to diagnose Lyme disease because:
- The tick bites and rash might not be noticed.
- Many early symptoms seem like the flu or other illnesses.
- Blood tests can only help diagnose Lyme disease later in the illness, several weeks after it started.
Doctors can diagnose early Lyme disease if they see a tick bite or the telltale rash, especially if the person lives in an area where Lyme disease is common.
To diagnose late Lyme disease, doctors:
- Ask about symptoms.
- Do blood tests that look for signs of Lyme disease.
Depending on the symptoms, doctors might order other tests, such as a spinal tap, which looks at the fluid around the brain and spinal cord.
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What Are The Best Tests For Lyme Disease
The DNA Connexions test identifies co-infections common to Lyme disease. MacTech Imaging picks up where the DNA Connexions test leaves off by giving doctors an idea of a patients overall microbial load. Each saliva sample is scanned for spirochetes and then given a graded score.
These two unique tests allow us to proceed confidently with treatment. Post-treatment analysis informs doctors as to whether a patient is clear.
Benefits Of Telemedicine For Lyme Disease
The study, entitled The Impact of Telemedicine in the Diagnosis of Erythema Migrans during the COVID Pandemic: A Comparison with In-Person Diagnosis in the Pre-COVID Era, compares clinical data of 439 patients with an erythema migrans rash before and after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.¹ Participants in the study were being treated at an Italian Dermatology Clinic. Most individuals with an EM rash were diagnosed using an in-person
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Detecting Lyme Disease With Laboratory Tests
Lyme disease diagnosis relies on clinical observations and laboratory tests for the presence of antibodies against the B. burgdorferi bacteria. Since it can take several weeks for antibodies to develop against the bacteria, lab tests help confirm the diagnosis. If Lyme disease goes undetected and untreated, the disease will continue to progress and symptoms may appear months after the tick bite. Some patients who have untreated Lyme disease are hospitalized because the bacteria can affect the brain, the nervous system and the heart.
The CDC recommends a two-step laboratory blood sample test to accurately diagnose Lyme disease. New tests are also being developed as alternatives to the two-step process but still require review and clearance from the Food and Drug Administration.
It is not always necessary to obtain a blood test to confirm early Lyme disease since the necessary protein antibodies in the blood that make a test positive may take many days to form. Thus, it is common to have a negative blood test early in infection. If a patient is at risk and might have an infection early, it is usually better to treat for Lyme disease rather than rely on a blood test. Blood tests are more helpful for late disease that may have gone untreated early in the infection course.
Powassan Virus Encephalitis Contracted During Winter Months
In their article Powassan Encephalitis: A Case Report from New York, USA, Bazer and colleagues describe a male patient who was admitted to the hospital in December due to altered mental status, dysarthria, and a left facial droop.¹ The man also had a history of multiple medical problems including of a right putamen infarct, hepatitis C, hypertension, and substance abuse. Clinicians considered a tick-borne disease since the patient had reported
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We Specialize In Lyme Disease Diagnosis And Treatment
Debra Muth, N.D., is one of the few Lyme literate practitioners in the state. She is an expert in this field and approaches Lyme disease from a functional medicine mindset, meaning she treats each individual as a whole person, not just a case or a set of symptoms.
Dr. Muth tests for Lyme disease using the more accurate Western blot test, instead of the conventional PCR testing favored by much of the conventional medicine community. She treats Lyme disease in Wisconsin with plans that are not available from a conventional medical doctor.
- Bio terrain therapy also known as Lyme Free
- Herbal supplementation
When a person is bitten by a tick that carries Lyme disease, they may also have coinfections. There are other diseases that the tick may carry, including:
Infectious Disease Clinics On The Froedtert Hospital Campus
Infectious Disease Clinics are located on the Froedtert Hospital campus in the and .
The clinics are staffed by Medical College of Wisconsin faculty and nurse practitioners and are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. 4:30 p.m., except on holidays. They offer:
- Comprehensive diagnostic and state-of-the-art treatment options offered for patients with conditions including:
- Bone and joint infections
- Transplant-related infections
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Chronic Lyme Patients Embrace Alternative Treatments Rack Up Big Bills
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Crystal Pauley, a former physician assistant, didnt believe in so-called chronic Lyme disease until she became sick.
Many health care providers reject chronic Lyme disease as a diagnosis. One 2010 survey found that just six out of 285 primary care doctors surveyed in Connecticut an epicenter for the tick-borne infection believed that symptoms of Lyme disease persist after treatment or in the absence of a positive Lyme test.
When Pauley worked for the La Crosse, Wisconsin-based Gundersen Health System, she remembered hearing about a friend from high school battling chronic Lyme in Australia. But she had her doubts. Im working in the medical field, she said. Weve never learned about that.
Years later, Pauley has changed her mind. Pauley tested positive for Lyme in 2020. She suffers from unrelenting fatigue, joint pain and brain fog. She walks up stairs sideways because of the unbearable knee pain. Pauley said she has become pseudo-Lyme literate because of her own personal journey.
Their symptoms are always real. Theyre experiencing them, said Dr. Joyce Sanchez, an infectious-disease associate professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin who treats Lyme patients with persistent symptoms.
Our Treatment Success Stories
âI am incredibly grateful for Dr. Fong and the entire team at Sierra Integrative Medical Center for helping me get my life back. After 10 years of searching for answers, and being dismissed by countless doctors, Dr. Fong took the time to really review my story and was the first doctor to see me, believe me, and help me get a diagnosis. Dr. Fong showed me that you CAN get better and have symptom free days again! Thank you, Dr. Fong, for everything!â
Christa Nannos, Author of Tick Tock, Itâs LYME Oâclock
The Doctors are western trained and practice alternative medicine, so I feel like we have the best of both worlds here. I would definitely encourage anyone to checkout the clinic because it has given us hope where wed had none before.
LaJean, Lyme Disease Patients Mother
Its a great clinic. I really appreciate the perspective of the treatment. Dr. Fong is an internal medicine specialist, hes focused on causes. With us he was able to go through and identify every single thing that is compromising the function of our immune system. I noticed a big improvement having the detox treatment By the time we left a year ago there was a real sense of a depth of energy.
Seth, Lyme Disease Patient
Danella C., Lyme Disease Patient
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News: Wisconsin Lyme Doctor May Be Back To Treating Patients Soon
In November 2011, Dr. John Gregory Hofffman, MD, who had treated Lyme patients for 20 years, had his license suspended by the Wisconsin medical board. This left 1300 Lyme patients scrambling for other medical care. This week, the medical board endorsed an agreement that may allow Hoffman to resume treating his patients.
Mike Nickel, moderator of the WisconsinLyme on-line support group, gives this update.
The Wisconsin Medical Board has endorsed the Agreement reached by the DSPS and Dr. Hoffmanns attorney.
Dr. Hoffmann will be able to resume practice as soon as a mentor has been established to oversee his practice on a weekly basis. The mentor process is in the works and should be completed shortly. Dr. Hoffmanns attorney will notify him when he is able to resume practice.
Dr. Hoffmann must undertake rigorous CME self study and pass an exam to be given 4 months from now.
Dr. Hoffmann is NOT allowed to accept any new patients.
Its quite possible that Dr. Hoffmann will be reinstated fully if all of these obligations are met.
Please do not contact Dr. Hoffmanns office until youve been notified that the mentor is in place and he can resume practice. This information will be posted on Wisconsin Yahoo and e-mailed to group leaders throughout the state and elsewhere.
What Is Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi and possibly Borrelia mayonii, a newly discovered bacteria similar to Borrelia burgdorferi. You get Lyme disease when you come into contact with the bacteria through a tick bite.
When an infected tick bites the skin, bacteria enter where the tick is feeding. It takes at least 24 hours for Lyme disease bacteria to transmit because the bacteria need to change their own gene expression to infect an animal. There are other pathogens that can be transmitted in a matter of hours. In general, the longer a tick is attached, the higher the risk of infection.
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Illinois Clinicians Demonstrate Gaps In Understanding Of Tick
Carson and colleagues surveyed clinicians between August 2020 and February 2022 and reported their findings in the article Knowledge, attitudes, and practices of Illinois medical professionals related to ticks and tick-borne disease. ¹ The respondents included RNs , physicians , and APNs/PAs . The authors found that clinicians were best at identifying Lyme disease. Out of 346 respondents, 80% correctly identified Lyme disease as endemic to Illinois, while 95% were
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Going Down Rabbit Holes
Often, chronic Lyme patients present multiple symptoms that make their diagnosis challenging. They bounce from one specialist to another to tackle each problem, but each diagnosis cannot explain all of the symptoms they are experiencing.
Cashman underwent an MRI because of her severe pelvic pain, and the results found two deflating ovarian cysts which can cause severe pain in the lower abdomen. But that diagnosis did not explain the unbearable pain that gravitated to her knees and to her head. She recalled that the swollen knee got red hot to touch, and she developed a fever. Cashman began to look for causes. Not everything is Lyme, but everything can be , she said. Its a weird thing, but you got to go down these rabbit holes.
Croteau saw specialists, including emergency physicians, a cardiologist, a kidney specialist and an immunologist. All the tests she took were negative for Lyme disease. She was told the problems may be related to psychological issues.
So basically, its been a timeline of two years of not being taken seriously, just pushed away either told I cant do anything for you theres nothing really wrong with you, Croteau said.
A medical provider suggested that she seek counseling and increase her dose of anti-anxiety medicine. But the pain in her joints and wrists were real, and her knuckles often got swollen. The brain fog made it hard for her to punch in a phone number correctly.