Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lyme Disease Awareness Month

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Lyme disease is the most common vectorborne disease in Maine. Cases have already been reported in 2014, and the number will rise as the weather continues to get warmer.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection carried by the deer tick. Cases have been increasing each year in Maine, and occur in all 16 counties. More than 1,375 cases of Lyme disease were reported statewide in 2013, a record high for Maine. Lyme disease is most common among school age children and adults older than 65. Most infections occur during the summer months.

The most common early symptom of Lyme disease is an expanding red rash that occurs 3-30 days after being bitten. Fever, headache, joint and muscle pains, and fatigue are also common during the first several weeks. Later features of Lyme disease can include arthritis in one or more joints (often the knee), Bell's palsy and other cranial nerve palsies, meningitis, and carditis (AV block). Lyme disease is treatable, and the majority of patients recover after receiving appropriate therapy.

What to do after a tick bite:
  • Remove the tick properly, ideally using tweezers or a tick spoon. 
  • Clean the area around the bite, and watch for signs and symptoms for 30 days. 
  • Testing of the tick is not routinely recommended. 
  • Prophylactic treatment after a tick bite is not routinely recommended, but can be considered under specific circumstances including. 
  • If you suspect Lyme disease, contact your health care provider for laboratory testing. The IDSA guidelines for assessment, treatment, and prevention of Lyme disease are available at http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/43/9/1089.full

Other tickborne diseases:
Other diseases that are carried by ticks in Maine include Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis and Powassan. Symptoms of Anaplasma include: fever, headache, malaise, and body aches. Symptoms of Babesia include: extreme fatigue, aches, fever, chills, sweating, dark urine, and possibly anemia. Symptoms of Powassan include: fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, loss of coordination, speech difficulties, seizures, and encephalitis and meningitis.

In 2013, providers reported 94 cases of Anaplasmosis, 36 cases of Babesiosis, and 1 case of Powassan. Five anaplasmosis cases and two babesiosis cases have already been reported in 2014.

For more information:

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