Lyme Disease

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ticks_2.jpgThis
disease, rather common in the hunting community, is often mistaken for
other ailments and thus is drastically under-reported (as little as 16%
of all cases are reported in some states.) Caused by the bite of an
infected deer tick, this disease can radically affect the lives of
those who have it due to its persistent, pervasive symptoms.

Those afflicted with Lyme often suffer from fatigue,
stiffness, headaches, nausea, diarrhea, numbness, chest pain, abnormal
heart rate or swollen and painful joints or glands. These symptoms are
often misdiagnosed as being either flu, arthritis, or stress-related
and can occur as soon as a few days after being bitten.

These symptoms usually disappear after a short time, but if
left untreated they can return and get progressively worse, leading to
conditions such as migraines, heart arrhythmia, myocarditis
(inflammation of the heart muscles) or severe arthritis. And while the
disease is rarely fatal, this continuous subjection to illness wears
down the body’s resistance and can cause other minor problems or more
major heart- or neurologically-related ones.

Typically signified by a bullseye-shaped rash around the site
of the bite (though this is true only 50-80% of the time), most of
Lyme’s symptoms can be treated by antibiotics. A recently FDA-approved
vaccine, though, the first of its kind, offers users full immunity. The
vaccine, LYMErix, was approved for anyone ages 15-70 and requires the
completion of a three shot cycle in order to be fully effective.
LYMErix, 80% effective for those with chronic symptoms, is noteworthy
mainly because it kills the disease in the tick rather than in the
human bloodstream.

tick.jpgAnd
while the vaccine is highly effective at preventing symptom
development, people should continue to take precautions against
infection. These include such basics as avoiding tick-infested areas,
wearing protective clothing, tucking in pants and shirts, and regularly
checking for ticks.

If you should get bitten by a tick, carefully remove it with
tweezers, pulling it out as close to the skin as possible. (The tick
attaches itself to the skin with the help of hook-like barbs and a
glue-like secretion, so pulling at it away from the skin can cause it
to rupture, allowing the bacteria within to enter the skin and possibly
transmit disease.)


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