TICKS AND LYME DISEASE
Since writing last week’s article about ticks I have done nothing but itch. It’s probably just the thought of these spider like pests, but knowing that doesn’t really help. I put the article on the Gardening Matters blogsite and have been receiving letters from people in Ireland and the UK who have been affected by the Lyme disease these ticks carry. We are getting more and more ticks on the dog and I’ve even taken to smearing her collar with insect repellent to try to keep them at bay. The Co-op do a product called Spot On that is used on sheep, cows and horses so I might invest in some of that if the infestation gets any worse. Here are a few of the letters about concerns of Lyme disease and the difficulty getting diagnosis.
From: A representative of Tick Talk Ireland
"Encouraging awareness, prevention & treatment of Lyme Disease (Borreliosis) in Ireland."
Hello - I loved the topic of ticks and the problems with repellents. I was infected in the States. My 3 dogs would be treated with frontline flea & tick repellent and yet every time they came in I had to kneel down & pick the little blighters off them. Unbeknown to me, as I was kneeling down a tick decided to run up my leg and feast on me instead. Only after 18 months of ME did I realise I had Lyme disease. Sadly now, it may be too late to completely eradicate the disease due to delays in my treatment.
A lot of emphasis is given on the Elisa tests for Lyme but the test kit manufacturers themselves state that a negative result should not be used to exclude diagnosis. Sadly this information never seems to filter down to the physician who requests the test. There are some private labs that will test for Lyme in the States and Germany at the expense of the patient and even then patients results are disbelieved, so getting treatment can be very hard indeed.
We are very keen to encourage the Department of Health in Ireland that Lyme is made notifiable - hopefully in time it will be so that more doctors can be made aware of its existence and of its seriousness if left untreated.
Thanks again for highlighting a problem unknown to many. Lyme disease can have the potential to afflict anyone of us, including doctors themselves!
With best wishes,
Tick Talk Ireland
From: Joanne Drayson Surrey
Re: Ticks. There can be dangers with ticks, especially:
1. In removing the ticks by hand.
2. If removed by any other means than thin nosed tweezers or a tick remover you don't just risk squishing the contents on yourself but if stressed the tick regurgitates it's stomach contents into the host.
3. Not all ticks carry Lyme but they can also carry other difficult to treat infections and we cannot ask the tick whether it is infected or not. One leading professor of entermology said at the 2008 Lyme Disease Action conference that an unknown percentage of ticks carry Lyme Disease. The infection comes from other small mammals rats etc.
4. Ticks do not need to be attached too long. If they have already had a partial blood feed they can transfer the infection sooner. There are many case studies, which show infection in less than 24hours.
5. Not all patients get the tell tale bull’s eye rash but if you do you are infected and should take immediate antibiotic treatment.
6. There are increasing numbers of patients very very sick with Lyme disease in Ireland and England.
7. Sadly our health authorities (in the UK) say the tests for Lyme Disease are 100% accurate but research shows that doctors can miss 50% of cases.
8. Patients can present with such an array of symptoms that they are often misdiagnosed such as, ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Muscle weakness, Neurological illnesses such as MS, MN, Parkinson's and even Alzheimer's as well as psychiatric illness, ADHD, OCD and autism. Sadly most of these people will receive only symptomatic treatment and may be refused the inadequate Lyme disease test. People can spend years suffering, not realising that specialist doctors will treat on long term antibiotics helping to improve symptoms and their life.
To read more about this awful illness I would suggest you read ILADS and/or Burrascano Guidelines found on www.ilads.org. The UK charity www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk also has much information on this matter.
It took 5 doctors and 3 rheumatologists 4 years to diagnose me and 3 years to treat me on long term antibiotics but I am no longer crippled with arthritis and muscle weakness and can cycle and enjoy my gardening once again.
From: Denise from iPetitions
Hi there - I really would like to warn you that Lyme disease is a real problem for dogs and humans, and horses too. I've got Lyme disease, caught in Scotland on holiday in 1985 when I was 33, happy and very fit. No one diagnosed it, not until private tests 20 years later. Too late for me now to get better and the NHS won't give any treatment anyway, so I buy my own antibiotics when I can afford them. Without them I go downhill even worse than I am now.
By the way, Ireland is absolutely rife with Lyme disease; even in the mid 90s they found it in about 8% of the blood supply. Some people can carry it for a while before they get ill. They actually don't know what to do about it, except pretend there is no problem.
Please have a look at our petition
We don't think the government are taking things seriously enough - there should be warning posters and leaflets in every doctor's surgery and at every park and forest and country walk.
If you go to the petition have a look at the comments and it will shock you how bad things are and how many people are suffering.
Perhaps some ticks are not infected, but it's best to think of them as if they were. They can even carry things such as nematode worms and flukes. Those of us who have been through hell with the disease are horrified at the thought of so many people not knowing about it and we want to prevent anyone from having to go through it. Some people die, from a stroke or heart attack, and others are paralysed or affected mentally.
So there you go. Become aware and informed and make sure you take every preventative measure when dealing with these parasites.
See the first post