Hello everyone!! I am relatively new to this site and the sport of hunting but have been battling Lyme Disease the past 3 years of my life. Due to the tremendous toll this illness has taken on my life and due to the amount of sportsmen and women I am coming across who do not know much about Lyme Disease or whom have many questions, I have decided to post some basic info. I hope that this information will reach and help at least one person who has or knows of someone who may have been bitten by an infected tick. If I can reach only one person and help them find more info about Lyme, my goal has been met! Disclaimer: I am a nurse, but not a doctor!! I am in no way, shape, or form attempting to offer medical advice or diagnose anyone with Lyme Disease or any other disease!! Feel free to post a reply or contact me or any other the other resources at the end of this thread if you have any additional questions or have any comments. What is Lyme Disease? Lyme Disease (abbreviated LD in this thread) is a spirochetal bacterial infection that is thought to be transmitted predominately the bite of the Ixodes Scapularis tick, commonly referred to as the deer tick, as shown here- Size of Ticks- Other species of ticks, such as the dog tick, wood tick, Lone-star tick, rabbit tick, and biting insects such as deer flies, horse flies, and mosquitoes have been shown to carry the Lyme Disease bacteria. It is important to remember that not all ticks carry the Lyme bacteria. Is Lyme Disease a new disease? The history of LD is fascinating. It was first recognized in 1976 by doctors at Yale University in Connecticut. There was a cluster of children living in three towns on the coast of Connecticut diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. In 1975, two mothers in Lyme, Connecticut became very suspicious that something else was brewing and brought it to the attention of the CT State Dept. of Health. The researchers found that most of the patients with arthritis lived in heavily wooded areas with the first symptoms beginning in summer. In addition, the disease was not contagious from person to person. Curiously, several patients remembered having had a bulls-eye rash before the arthritis began. It turned out that the same round red skin rash, named Erythema Migrans (EM), which is shown here- It also became very clear that Lyme Arthritis was actually a more complex illness that not only involved the skin, but also impacted the nerves and heart muscle of both children and adults. In 1982, Dr. William Burgdorfer was able to find within the tick the spirochete bacteria that causes LD. Subsequently, the bacteria was named Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb). This discovery was a major step in being able to tie the worldwide picture of LD together as well as becoming the springboard for further research regarding the biology, transmission, treatment, and prevention of this disease. Who gets Lyme Disease? Anybody can get LD. People who frequent the woods and forest edges such as campers, hikers, outdoor workers, and hunters are generally more likely to come in contact with ticks. However, LD has also become a suburban illness because new home development has encroached on the woodland. Ticks feed on field mice, deer, and other rodents and birds. Domestic animals such as dogs, cats, horses, and cattle can also become host to the ticks. Although these animals are possible carriers on LD, it is not believed that they can transmit the disease directly to humans. What can occur is that pets can bring ticks into our yards and homes, leaving us susceptible to being bitten. Birds, mice, and rodents passing through our yards can also deposit these unwelcome guests near our homes. What are the symptoms? Lyme disease is thought to occur in three stages, however, they can overlap and not all patients go through all three stages. About 30% of the patients may get the bulls-eye rash. It usually starts at the bite site, but may also appear anywhere on the body. The rash may grow in a circular pattern like a target. Not all Lyme rashes are bulls-eye rashes and many people do not recall having a red rash. In some cases, fatigue, fever, chills, headache, stiff neck, muscle/joint aches, or other flu-like symptoms are the first indication of illness. In the weeks, or months following a tick bite, the pain (or weakness) in the joints, muscles, tendons, or bones may become migratory and move to other areas of the body. Temporary heart involvement may cause palpitations or fainting. Severe itching, temperature fluctuations, and vision problems may occur. A multitude of symptoms may come and go, causing doctors to treat only the symptoms and not recognize the overall systemic nature of LD. SYMPTOM LIST: The following symptoms of LD vary on severity or the infection and the amount of time before treatment. You may have some, many, or even different symptoms than listed. Eyes or Vision: Inflammation of the membranes lining eyelids Inflammation of the eye Loss of normal papillary reflexes in response to light Inflammation of optic nerve Abnormal sensitivity to light Double vision Inflammation of the iris Heart: Slowed heart rhythm caused by improper conduction of electrical signals in and to the heart Inflammation of the heart muscle and/or the membrane surrounding the heart Irregular heartbeats Enlarged heart Fainting, dizziness Shortness of breath Chest pain (may feel like a heart attack) Rapid heartbeat or skipped beats A triple cadence in heart sounds caused by an abnormal third or fourth beat Arthritic: Painful joints Arthritis, inflamed joints Inflammation of muscles and/or tendons Disease located in the muscles A collection of fluid that has escaped the knee joint or a bursa and formed a new sac in an adjacent area Neurologic: Paralysis of facial nerve Meningitis Disease of spinal nerve root Inflammation of the brain, multiple nerves, spinal cord, and/or arteries in the brain Disease of peripheral nerves, and/or nerve networks Spasmodic movements of limbs and/or facial muscles Loss of muscle coordination caused by disease in the cerebellum of the brain Partial paralysis of muscles, and/or Bell’s Palsy Seizures Headaches ranging from mild to severe Stiff neck Impairment of normal sensations Abnormal sensations: itching, prickling, tingling, Sleeping disturbances Hearing loss or hypersensitivity to sounds Ringing in ears Partial paralysis of one side Paralysis of lower extremities Neuropsychiatric: Mood swings Irritability Poor concentration Instability Forgetfulness/ memory loss General deterioration Psychosis Loss of appetite Other Symptoms: Fever Fatigue Sore throat Disease of lymph nodes/ enlarged lymph nodes Enlarged spleen Enlarged liver Testicular swelling Nausea Vomiting Cough Hoarseness Diarrhea Abdominal pain Rashes Menstrual irregularity Speech problems In some untreated patients, the spirochete will remain inactive and never create any severe problems. However, in other patients, the untreated infection may result in the development of other problems associated with Lyme. Because so many individuals do not get the rash, LD may go undiagnosed. LD infection that has gone undetected, or inadequately treated can lead to a chronic state called “late-stage Lyme Disease”. This stage includes debilitation arthritis, bouts of numbness in the limbs, Bell’s palsy, and neurological disorders. Symptoms may go into temporary remission and then recur or be replaced with new symptoms. Lyme Disease is often called “The Great Imitator” because it can mimic other diseases, such as Lupus, Lou Gehrig’s Disease/ Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Multiple Sclerosis, or Parkinson’s Disease. LD can present with such an array of symptoms that are often the same as these listed illnesses so those who have been diagnosed with these named illnesses should ask their doctor to confirm that LD is not the cause of their symptoms. How is Lyme Disease diagnosed? Lyme Disease is a clinical diagnosis, meaning it is based on your clinical symptoms. Perhaps the most serious problem facing Lyme victims is diagnosing the disease. LD mimics so many other illnesses and the pattern of symptoms varies from patient to patient. At present, there are four tests available: the ELISA test (also called the Lyme titer), the Western Blot, Lyme Disease Urine Antigen, and the PCR, but are often unreliable. According to a recent study by the College of American Pathologists, more than 55% of ELISA tests were inaccurate. Of these three, the Western Blot is the most reliable. These tests are to be used in conjunction with symptoms and patient history. Some people test negative but still may have Lyme Disease. Education for you and your physician is a must. How can Lyme Disease be treated? People with a known tick bit or known EM rash should be given oral antibiotics (abx) early in the disease. They should not wait for symptoms, as they may not show up for some time. Your treatment of oral or IV abx should be discussed with a Lyme literate physician (please contact the Michigan Lyme Disease Association for more info regarding physicians). There are over 300 strains of Bb bacteria and unfortunately there is no test to tell us which abx works well for each strain. The Borreliosis bacteria is different from many others because it lives a very long time and has an extremely long generation time. It also may go into periods of latency. There isn’t a test to tell us that your body has rid completely of the Lyme bacteria either. One of the best ways to help your physician is to keep a daily log so he/she may see which abx may or may not be working. It is very important to be treated as soon as possible to prevent the disease from reproducing and becoming a multi-systemic illness. Can there be more than one disease from a tick bite? Yes, ticks carry other diseases such as Babesia, Erhlichia, Bartonella, Tick Fever, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF). You may or may not get any of these from a tick bite, but on the other hand, you could be infected with more than one bacteria from a tick bite. It is imperative that your doctor look at all of your symptoms and test you for other tick-borne illnesses. Research is ongoing regarding all these diseases and it is best to be educated with this information. Babesiosis: A malaria-like infection caused by a parasite that targets red blood cells. Symptoms include headache, fever, chills, muscle pain, sweating, and anemia. Ehrlichiosis: A bacterial infection caused by several types of rickettsiae which invade and kill white blood cells. Symptoms include fever, headache, chills, extreme muscle pain, anemia, decrease in white blood cells, lung infection, elevated liver enzymes, and a rash could occur. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: An infection caused by Rickettsia rickettsii and has been reported throughout North America. Symptoms include headache, chills, flu-like aches and pains, high fever, and a reddish to black rash that looks like measles, starts on the extremities and can spread to the entire body. Other tick-borne illnesses in the USA include Colorado Tick Fever, Relapsing Fever, Tick Paralysis, and Tularemia. How do you protect yourself from tick-borne diseases? There are simple steps to prevention. FIRST be aware of the tick’s habitat: bushes, tall grasses, woods, yards, and wood piles. SECOND, wear appropriate clothing. When temperatures allow, wear long pants and tuck your shirt inside. Pull your socks up over your pant legs and wear good shoes. Light colored clothing makes it easier to spot a tick. The use of an insect repellant containing DEET is helpful. Read the directions on the can very carefully/ Sprays containing Permethrin may be used on clothes only, and must be sprayed and dried before you wear them. THIRD, monitor yourself, children, and pets immediately after coming inside. Inspect clothes, undress and check for ticks. Check all areas by rubbing your hands over the skin. Ticks are very small and you may feel them before you feel them. Remove any attached ticks and save it in a small bottle with the date and the bite’s location. Be alert for early signs and symptoms and watch for signs of a rash for a month or so. Call your physician and record your tick bite. Use tick-control products in your yard, on yourself, and on your pets. How should you remove a tick? Proper tick removal is ESSENTIAL. Use fine-point tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. DO NOT squeeze the tick’s body. Grasp it where it’s mouthparts enter the skin and tug gently but firmly and repeat as necessary until it releases it’s hold. Take your time and be patient. Pull it straight out. DO NOT squeeze the ticks body. Wipe the bite area thoroughly with an antiseptic. Save the tick in a covered bottle. Record the date and location where you were bitten. This facilitates testing at a later date. Your doctor may find this information and the tick specimen helpful in diagnosis if a rash or other symptoms of Lyme Disease subsequently appear. You can also send the tick to the to have it tested for LD. You can find more info on this here: http://www.michigan.gov/mda/0,1607,7-125-1566_2403_2421-44271--,00.html Links for more information: MICHIGAN LYME DISEASE ASSOCIATION http://www.hvcn.org/info/mlda/ 1-888-784-LYME(5963) Michigan Lyme Disease Association Support Groups Berrien County Phone Support Elizabeth Marvin 269-468-4098 Flint/Flushing/Clio Meets 2nd Thursday of the month at 7:00pm Clio Senior Center 2136 W. Vienna St. Clio, MI Mary Fairweather Email: email@example.com Phone: 810-686-9383 Livingston County Phone Support Bev Grunheid Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Lenawee County Meets 2nd Monday of Month at 7:00pm At First Church of Nazarene 50 Industrial Drive. Adrian MI Chris Emery Email: email@example.com Phone: 517-265-5712 Western Wayne County Phone Support Connie Siese Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 734-326-3502 North Oakland County Phone Support Iris Ishman Phone: 248-625-8747 Ann Arbor Phone Support Neal & Meredith Foster Email: email@example.com Phone: 734-663-0756 Oakland/Macomb/St. Clair County Meets 1st Monday of Month at 7:00pm Church of Christ in Roseville 17415 11 Mile Road (I696 & Gratiot) Amy Holloway Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 888-784-5963 Blue Water Area Meets 2rd Thursday of Month at 7pm Acheson Community Resoure Center 514 McMorran Boulevard (Downtown Port Huron). Hillary M. Email: email@example.com Phone: 810-987-6415 Grand Rapids Phone Support Gretchen Meyer Email: Gretehen Phone: 616-583-0549 AGAIN, my goal is to only help educate others about Lyme Disease. If you have more questions, please post them or contact me and I will try to find you the answers or someone who can.