Lyme Disease is a Common Virus with Lots of Misunderstandings Surrounding It

Lyme disease around the country has seen a slow and steady uptick every year.

This was one fact that Dan Caroff, MD, MPH, and infectious disease specialist at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center and Winchester Hospital, presented in his recent talk “Demystifying Lyme Disease.”

“Lyme disease can be a nebulous topic for the frontline clinicians to deal with,” Dr. Caroff said.

The bacterial cause of the disease was identified in 1982 and is carried by the white footed mouse. The deer tick is the vector that spreads the disease to other mammals, including humans.

There are about 30,000 new diagnoses of Lyme disease every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are several myths about Lyme and treating it and the goal of Caroff’s talk was, as the title suggests, streamlining information about the disease.

In the talk Caroff offered the following fast facts:

  • For the deer tick to transmit to a patient, the insect has be attached for 24 hours as well as engorged.
  • The state with the most Lyme diagnoses is Maine, followed by Vermont and then Pennsylvania.
  • Most people with Lyme disease will report rash, joint pains, fevers, and generally feeling unwell. Without treatment, patients can develop meningitis, facial weakness, nerve pains, heart rhythm problems, and chronic arthritis.
  • The diagnosis is commonly made using antibody tests. Treating Lyme disease is very effective and can usually be done through oral medication.
  • It is not unusual for a patient to experience ongoing or recurrent symptoms after treating Lyme disease; this happens in about 50 percent of cases. In these situations, it generally does not mean that antibiotics are needed again. These symptoms very often go away in time.

For more information on Lyme disease and how to treat it, speak with your Lahey Health physician.

*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.

MORE IN Live Well