Posts Tagged chronic Lyme disease

Do All Ticks Carry Lyme disease?

As Lyme disease Awareness Month winds down, the tick population is out and active. Just this past weekend I was working in the yard with my husband when he noticed a tick on his shirt. Lucky for us, we were able to see it easily on his white long-sleeved shirt (yes, I made him wear long sleeves). Had he had dark colors or a T-shirt on we may not have seen it until it had already attached. Of course, this tick encounter came up at a barbecue later that night and I was surprised to hear how little people know about both ticks and Lyme disease. Since it’s almost June and will no longer be Lyme disease Awareness month, let’s address some commonly asked questions…

Do all ticks carry Lyme disease? No, there are many species of ticks, but only the blacklegged, or deer, ticks carry Lyme disease and only 1 in 4 or 5 deer ticks carry Lyme.

Tick Bite

Engorged tick

How can I distinguish a deer tick from another type of tick? Deer ticks have black legs (hence the name blacklegged tick). When a deer tick hasn’t had a blood meal, its back is most commonly black and brown, however, when it is engorged, the body turns a grayish blue color.

Are there signs that there are ticks in my area? The most obvious way to tell if there are deer ticks in your area are to see if you have an active deer population. Deer are the most common transportation method for deer ticks. Anywhere you have deer, you will find ticks.

What are the best ways to avoid tick bites and Lyme disease? Anyone who spends time outdoors has the opportunity to be bitten by a tick, but there are things you can do to minimize your risk. Wearing lose, light colored clothing will make ticks easier to spot. Make sure to do a thorough tick check after spending time outdoors, paying particular attention to the dark, hard to reach areas that ticks like to hide and attach. This includes your armpits, behind the knee and the groin. According to most sources, a tick has to be attached for at least 24 hours to transmit Lyme disease.

Does a bull’s-eye rash develop in all cases of Lyme? No, not all people with Lyme disease have the bull’s-eye rash, but the majority do. Between 80-90% of people with Lyme do have some form of the rash, but sometimes they can’t see it depending on where the tick bite happened. The rash will center around the tick bite. Other symptoms of Lyme are joint pain, fatigue, headaches and fever.

Is Lyme disease easily treated? When Lyme is diagnosed early it is easily treated with antibiotics. About 10-20% of cases develop chronic Lyme disease which is more difficult to treat. The earlier it can be diagnosed, the less likely you are to have long term effects of Lyme.

How do I remove an attached tick? Despite the many myths involving burning and suffocating ticks, the best way to remove a tick is with tweezers. Grab the tick with the tweezers as close to your body as possible and pull out straight, making sure that the entire head is removed. Ticks have beak-like mouths so it may be difficult to pull it off. After removing the tick, place it in a plastic bag in case it needs to be tested by the doctor and wash the tick bite out with soap and water.

Are there things I can do in my yard to avoid ticks and minimize my chance of getting Lyme? Yes, at Mosquito Squad we recommend the 6 Cs of tick control.

  1. Mosquito Squad kills ticks dead

    Mosquito Squad kills ticks dead before they can bite and transmit Lyme disease

    Clear out. Reduce your tick exposure by clearing out areas where lawn and tree debris gathers. Ticks thrive in moist, shady areas and tend to die in sunny, dry areas. Locate compost piles away from play areas or high traffic. Separate them with wood chips or gravel. Don’t position playground equipment, decks and patios near treed areas.

  2. Clean. Eliminate leaf litter and brush by cleaning it up around the house and lawn edges, mow tall grasses and keep your lawn short.
  3. Choose plants. Select plants and shrubs that are not attractive to deer and/or install physical barriers to keep deer out of your yard. Check with your local nursery to determine the best choices for your area.
  4. Check hiding places. Know tick hiding places and check them frequently. Fences, brick walls and patio retaining walls are popular hiding places.
  5. Care for family pets. Family pets can suffer from tick-borne disease and also carry infected ticks into the home. Talk to your veterinarian about using tick collars and sprays. As with all pest control products, be sure to follow directions carefully.
  6. Call the pros. Professionals utilize both barrier sprays that can kill live ticks on the spot as well as “tick tubes.” Strategically placed, “tick tubes” prompt field mice to incorporate tick-killing material in their bedding, effectively eliminating hundreds of tick nymphs found in each mouse nest.

When it comes to treatment, do not hesitate to reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office. Not only do our tick treatments for the yard include tick tubes, but also our barrier spray. Our barrier spray will adult ticks on contact before they bite you and your family.

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Diet and Cookbook Used to Treat Chronic Lyme

I love reading the stories of men and women who, when put in a difficult situation, not only make the best of it, but try to help others. Such is the case of Laura Piazza. Laura Piazza, a professional photographer, was diagnosed with Lyme disease. She began researching and learning about the illness when she came across the idea of the Lyme Inflammation Diet(R) as developed by Dr. Kenneth Singleton. From there, her mother and she joined forces to create Recipes for Repair, a cookbook that aims to help men and women with chronic Lyme disease.

Tick Bite

When ticks bite, they release saliva in the symptom that can transmit disease, like Lyme disease

The Lyme Inflammation Diet(R) aims to decrease inflammation that often occurs with Lyme through choosing and eating nutritious foods. It is made up of four phases where different foods are introduced back into the system. When Laura started the diet she asked her mother, Gail, for help creating healthy, yet delicious meals that followed Dr. Singleton’s plan. A home economics consultant and recipe developer, Gail created filling and yummy meals that made her daughter feel better. “By eliminating foods that I’m sensitive to, I’ve seen some symptoms get better and others go away completely,” says Laura “While no diet can cure a chronic illness, it can certainly help by bringing down the inflammation levels in your body.” Source.

She and Laura then decided to take it to the next step and create a cookbook to help those suffering from Lyme disease. Laura and Gail worked alongside Dr. Singleton and his wife to create Recipes for Repair: A Lyme Disease Cookbook.

I first learned of this cookbook through a book review that sparked my interest (you know how we are always learning about tick-borne diseases at Mosquito Squad). I’ll be honest and didn’t think I would find anything I liked in the 8 free recipes they offer on their website, but I was wrong. Everything looks delicious and not that difficult or time-consuming to make (if it takes over an hour, I’m not making it). And the reviews are great! Here are just a few things people are saying:

“My FAVORITE cookbook which has helped me change my diet and feel better!”

“This book is informative and easy to process. The recipes look and taste delicious. These are meals you are able to serve to your entire family and they wouldn’t know they were on any type of diet!”

“I noticed after just a week that I felt better. And now, my GI problems have subsided, I don’t itch intensely all over and my joint pain has decreased so much.”

You can read more about Recipes for Repair and its authors on their website at recipesforrepair.com.

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New Drug for Chronic Lyme – FDA to decide to move forward with testing

Small tick on finger

The tick is a vector of many illnesses and disease, so small yet so dangerous.

With such a mild winter and warm spring, mosquitoes and ticks are already out and about, and biting. There has been an influx of news regarding ticks this year and the diseases they may carry, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease. According to the Wall Street Journal “between 1992 and 2010, reported cases of Lyme doubled, to nearly 23,000 and there were another 7,600 probable cases in 210, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But CDC officials say the true incidence of Lyme may be three times higher.”

The high rate of tick activity so far in 2012 has experts predicting an increase in Lyme disease. Lyme disease, transmitted through a tick bite, can cause nausea, fatigue, joint pain and headaches. If caught early, it can be treated with antibiotics, but if it goes untreated it can cause more serious ailments including shooting pains, dizziness, chronic fatigue and heart palpitations.

As we have mentioned in previous posts, doctors are still debating whether chronic Lyme disease exists and if it does, the best ways to treat it. As the conversation continues as to its validity, some researchers are moving forward and looking for a cure for chronic Lyme.

Over the last two and half years, Dr. Newell-Rogers, a professor at Texas A&M, and Viral Genetics have been testing a new drug that could be prescribed for chronic Lyme disease. Their findings and a proposal for a clinical trial were recently submitted to the FDA for consideration. Time for Lyme, an organization that focuses on the research of tick-borne illnesses, has financed the pre-clinical research. “At present, there is no recognized treatment for Lyme once it has developed into its chronic, long-term state,” says Peter Wild, executive director of Time for Lyme. “We are hopeful that Dr. Newell-Roger’s work will provide the solution that long-term Lyme disease sufferers have been hoping for, for decades.” Read more about the study here.

As the FDA decides on whether or not to move forward with Dr. Newell-Roger’s trial, it is important that we all protect ourselves from ticks in a year that they are expected to be VERY prevalent. Here are some tips:

  • Reduce tick exposure through landscaping. Ticks live in moist, shady areas, so separate your outdoor living spaces from their habitats using gravel or wood-chip borders. Mow tall grasses and don’t position playgrounds along the wooded areas.
  • Treat your pets. Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses can harm your pets as well. Ask your veterinarian about tick medications.
  • Dress appropriately. Wearing loose-fitting, long sleeved and long legged clothing will reduce your chance for tick bites.
  • Check your body for ticks. It’s important to check yourself thoroughly for ticks after being outside. Pay special attention to feet, ankles, behind the knees and armpits.
  • Remove ticks promptly. If you see a tick on you, make sure to remove it promptly and place it in a plastic bag in case it needs to be tested for Lyme.

If you have a problem with ticks in your yard, you may need professional treatment. Mosquito Squad’s tick control service helps fight Lyme by killing ticks before they can bite you. To learn more, please visit our website or contact your local Mosquito Squad office.

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2011 Brought Advances in the Fight Against Vector-Borne Illnesses

Happy New Year!

One interesting part of starting a new year is always to look over the “best of” lists: Best celebrity weddings, best technology improvements, most fascinating people, etc. Discover Magazine annually puts out the “Top 100 Stories” of the year before. This year, several of Dread Skeeter’s nemeses made the list.

#90: Chronic Lyme Patients Validated

Diagnosing Lyme disease can often be difficult as its symptoms are very similar to other ailments, and in the case of post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, some patients have been told they either have chronic fatigue syndrome or are perfectly fine. Well, in 2011 immunologist Steven Schutzer was able to prove that there is a difference between patients with chronic fatigue and post-treatment Lyme patients, proving the syndrome does exist.

Mosquitoes can be deadly when carrying certain illnesses like Dengue Fever and malaria

Mosquitoes can be deadly when carrying certain illnesses like Dengue Fever and malaria

#47: Ending Dengue

According to the Center for Disease Control, 2.5 billion people live in areas where Dengue Fever is present in mosquitoes, resulting in severe headaches, joint, muscle and bone pain and in some cases death. Australian scientists believe they may have the answer. When they injected mosquitoes with the Wolbachia bacterium, the insect was unable to transmit Dengue. 2011 tests proved optimistic when the bacteria was proved to be passed on through reproduction.

#28: Hepatitis B Boosts Malaria Vaccine

Past malaria vaccines haven’t shown great promise in trial, but a new GlaxoSmithKline test is showing a 50% success rate. The vaccine tricks the body into protecting against malaria by heightening the immune system via hepatitis proteins. With the trial running through 2014, we at Mosquito Squad are interested to see how it can help against Africa’s fight against malaria.

#13 Can Gut Bacteria Stop the Spread of Malaria

George Dimopoulos of Johns Hopkins University has found that the Enterobacter bacterium, when ingested by a mosquito, renders that mosquito unable to transmit malaria by killing a parasite that causes malaria. It was a happy mistake that hopefully leads to a cut in the number of malaria cases in future years.

2011 was a big year in the mosquito and tick world. Here’s hoping that 2012 brings the same, but as long as you are bothered by mosquitoes and ticks, Dread Skeeter and Mosquito Squad are here to protect you, your family and your friends.

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Long-Term Antibiotic Treatment of Lyme Disease, What Do You Think?

Last night I had the opportunity to sit in on a hearing at Virginia’s General Assembly Building regarding Bill H.B. 512 which relates to long-term antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease.  The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) currently recommends a 28-day antibiotic regimen to treat Lyme disease. Some doctors fear disciplinary action if they prescribe more. In short, H.B. 512 would allow doctors to prescribe long-term antibiotic treatments without disciplinary action.

I knew as soon as I walked up to the building that this bill could affect a lot of people. Nearly a hundred people waited in the hallway to enter the hearing in support of the bill, the majority of which suffered from chronic Lyme disease or know someone who does. I admittedly have a lot to learn about Lyme and its treatment, but until last night, I never knew how debilitating it could truly be. People can suffer with symptoms for years, including pain and fatigue.

After an hour of statements and testimony, the bill was passed over to be brought up in another session. There is still a lot to be learned about Lyme disease and it will be interesting to see what happens the next H.B. 512 hearing.  Since Virginia is less affected by chronic Lyme disease and my knowledge of it is limited, I want to hear more. What do you think of long-term antibiotic regimens for Lyme?

The Entrance to Virginia's General Assembly Building

Supporters of H.B. 512 waiting for the hearing

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