At least 25% of all reported Lyme disease cases in the United States involve children under age 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Children and adolescents are among the most at-risk group for developing Lyme disease. Yet, their symptoms often go unrecognized or are dismissed, enabling the disease to progress.
In a recent article published in Open Forum Infectious Disease, Kobayashi and colleagues suggest that Lyme disease is often mistakenly diagnosed as causing various illnesses, which has led to the unnecessary use of antibiotics. The authors conducted a retrospective study of patients with possible Lyme disease, who were referred to an infectious disease clinic in Maryland between 2000 and 2013. ¹
Outdoor workers are at a greater risk of getting a tick bite than the general population. In fact, their risk is more than 5 times greater, explains Hu in the journal Zoonoses Public Health. Many of those outdoor workers are Hispanic, who represent “44.8% of grounds maintenance workers and 42.8% of workers in the farming, fishing and forestry industries,” Hu writes, citing U.S. Department of Labor Statistics from 2018.
When ticks are questing, they hold onto leaves, grass and other objects with their third and fourth pair of legs. They hold their front legs outstretched, waiting to climb onto the host as it passes by. But, when do ticks quest?
It has been nearly two decades since the Lyme disease vaccine LYMErix was pulled off the market by its manufacturer, SmithKline Beecham. The vaccine was designed to prevent the transmission of the tick-borne bacterial agent Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease.
The tick-borne illness Babesia duncani (B. duncani) was initially identified in the western regions of the United States. The disease has always been presumed to be confined to the West Coast, while its counterpart – Babesia microti (B. microti) has been well established on the East Coast.
As the number of tick-borne disease cases continues to grow, preventing tick bites is becoming increasingly important. In addition to performing personal protective behaviors to minimize tick exposure, individuals are modifying their yards and utilizing pesticide treatments to control tick populations. But new research indicates that tick bite prevention behaviors vary between socio-economic levels.
The number of Babesia cases in the United States continues to grow at an alarming rate. This is concerning for several reasons: symptoms can be non-specific; patients may be infected but asymptomatic; Babesia can be transmitted unknowingly through blood transfusions, and it can be fatal. Recently, physicians at Mayo Clinic reviewed the clinical presentations and treatment approaches for 38 Babesia patients living in the Upper Midwest.¹
It is well-recognized that Lyme disease can cause neurologic symptoms, such as peripheral neuropathy when the infection goes untreated. Patients can experience muscle weakness and/or twitching, loss of sensation in parts of the body, numbness, tingling sensations, problems with balance and bladder control, and a feeling of dizziness or faintness. But now, new research indicates that femoral neuropathy may also be due to Lyme disease.
Traumatic brain injury and Lyme disease are known to cause chronic illness with serious neurologic and cognitive impairments for some individuals. The clinical presentation is similar for both conditions. And while the majority of patients may recover from a concussion, others who continue to have persistent symptoms may be diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome (PCS).
Dr. Daniel Cameron, MD, MPH, is a nationally recognized leader for his expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. For more than 30 years, he has been treating adolescents and adults suffering from Lyme disease.