Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Lyme Disease Facts and the Ticks who are causing it!

Since recently having been bitten and currently being treated for a tick bite and potential Lyme exposure I have decided to help with awareness!

This was my wake up call to letting as many people know about Lyme disease as I can reach! 

I was surprised to see how little is done to educate for a growing problem, especially in the Northeast Region of the United States where Lyme is so prevalent.  If known what to look for early, it is nearly always curable.

Lyme disease is caused by the tick-borne spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato..Of the total vector-borne illnesses found in the United States, Lyme disease is by far the most prominent and it accounts for more than 95% of the vector borne cases of illness in the country. Lyme disease has surpassed AIDS as one of the fastest growing infectious epidemics in our nation, with a cost to society measured at approximately $1 billion annually.

Reported Lyme disease cases in the US have more than doubled since the CDC began recording cases in 1991. In 2007, 27,444 cases of Lyme disease were reported to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, a 40% increase from 2006!

Tick-borne Lyme disease used to show up in a little fringe of the coastal northeast United States. A bad disease, but in small terrain. Small numbers. Well, look again. Lyme disease is spreading far and wide.

Across Pennsylvania, into Ohio, southwest Michigan, northern Illinois. Heavy in Wisconsin, in Minnesota, showing up in North Dakota, even California. Look south and it’s big in New Jersey, Maryland, northern Virginia. And creeping beyond. It’s a story of ticks and deer and foxes and coyotes and birds. And pain.

The source of many bites is the deer tick, which often resides on animals in forests, the doctors said. The experts recommend that when going into the woods, individuals should travel in the middle of the day and be careful to stay on paths and avoid animal trails.

Larval and nymphal deer ticks often hide in shady, moist ground litter, but adults can often be found above the ground clinging to tall grass, brush, and shrubs. They also inhabit lawns and gardens, especially at the edges of woodlands and around old stone walls where deer and white-footed mice, the ticks' preferred hosts, thrive. Within the endemic range of B. burgdorferi (the spirochete that infects the deer tick and causes LD), no natural, vegetated area can be considered completely free of infected ticks.

Deer ticks cannot jump or fly, and do not drop from above onto a passing animal. Potential hosts (which include all wild birds and mammals, domestic animals, and humans) acquire ticks only by direct contact with them. Once a tick latches onto human skin it generally climbs upward until it reaches a protected or creased area, often the back of the knee, groin, navel, armpit, ears, or nape of the neck. It then begins the process of inserting its mouthparts into the skin until it reaches the blood supply.

In tick-infested areas, the best precaution against LD is to avoid contact with soil, leaf litter and vegetation as much as possible. However, if you garden, hike, camp, hunt, work outdoors or otherwise spend time in woods, brush or overgrown fields, you should use a combination of precautions to dramatically reduce your chances of getting Lyme disease.

Experts also say that people entering the woods should wear protective clothing that covers their skin as well as boots and shoes. Shorts and sandals should be avoided.

When returning from the outdoors, people should check their bodies for clinging insects. Since some ticks that aren’t engorged are very small, use a mirror to check for insects or seek assistance from someone. Any clothes that were worn should be placed in the dryer for at least five minutes on high heat to kill any deer ticks that may have found their way onto the fabric.

Of the repellents that can keep ticks away, DEET is the most commonly recommended.

Property owners also should keep their land drained and dry if possible. The number of rodents should be controlled and deer presence should be limited with fences and deer-resistant plantings.

Lyme disease has many more symptoms than listed below but this is a summary of the major symptoms:

> After experiencing the bite or a flu-like episode, you started having one health problem after another or have not felt completely well since. 
>  You appear deceptively well, even when in intense pain and feeling terribly unwell. 
>  Your symptoms wax and wane, change, come and go. 
>  Some symptoms stay, some come and go, some are dramatic and others merely annoying. 
>  You find yourself describing your symptoms as weird or bizarre. 
>  All these symptoms started after a certain month, season or incident. 
>  You have persistent malaise, with periods of worsening symptoms, often cyclical, repeating about every four weeks. 
>  Whenever you are stressed your pain rises to a higher level. 
>  Whenever you fall, injure, or cut yourself - the injury and its associated pain lingers an exaggerated amount of time. 
>  Alcohol reacts on you. 
>  Your head is unclear, can't remember, thinking is off... 
>  Your medical tests have all turned up negative. 
>  Your MD insinuates your symptoms are not real.  
>  You know that something about your health is definitely not right . 

Body Temperature Disturbances 
> Body temperature feels unregulated 
> Can’t stand hot or cold temperatures. 
> Body temperature below 37oC ( 98.6°F)  
> Ice cold body parts and patches anywhere on body that do not match environment. 
> Unexplained sudden over-heating throughout body. 
> Unexplained chills (difficulty getting warmed up) 
> When sleeping: Night sweats (drenching) or intense body heat. 
> Unexplained sweats/fevers/feeling very hot, day and night. 
> Unexplained fevers (high or low grade) Recurrent episodes of fever 

Cognitive Disturbances 
> Brain fog; Like a cloud reducing your clarity of mind. 
>Brain block when trying to focus. Mimics Brain injury 
> Difficulty in thinking and processing information. 
> Difficulty reading, especially for enjoyment.  
> Difficulty in planning and organizing 
> Difficulty in problem solving/decision-making 
> Difficulty to see or take in the whole picture. 
> Difficulty with multi-tasking. 
> Difficulty to think quickly and to respond quickly. 
> Difficulty with judgment; Saying something without processing it correctly. Inability to think it through and its consequences. 
> Difficulty making decisions. 
> Difficulty estimating/figuring time. 
> Difficulty in tracking objects in motion. 
> Difficulty with calculations. (Inability to hold numbers in head or to add/subtract on the spur of the moment.) 
> Difficulty getting started or completing a project. 
> Slow processing of information 
> Difficulty in performing sequential tasks. 
> Difficulty learning new tasks 
> Suddenly forgetting how to perform routine tasks and remembering how, much later. 
> Problems with letter or number reversals (Mimics Dyslexia) 
> Intermittent spelling and writing difficulty. 
> Difficulty maintaining focus or concentrating.  
> Easily distracted. 
> Racing thoughts. Impulsive. Mimics schizophrenia 
> Losses in fields of attention/executive functions such as inability to maintain divided or sustained attention and memory  
> Inattention: distractibility, easily sidetracked, trouble staying focused, trouble sitting still.  
> Talking a lot, in constant motion, hyperactive. Mimics ADD/ADHD- Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder  
> Impulsivity:  impatient, interrupts others, saying something without thinking first. 
> Interrupting others in mid conversation or contributing to the conversation long after it is finished. Misspeaking.  
> Difficulty to keep up to a conversation or to understand what is being said. Auditory processing problems. Disrupted participation in conversation. 
> Difficulty in expressing ones self. Difficulty in word finding. Speech comes out as stammering, slurred, slow, hesitating. Word search, name block. Speech errors, wrong word comes out. Halting speech. 
> Emotional and expressive incontinence. 
> Slow processing, recalling, or remembering of information or what was read. 
> Difficulty with basics, social, and day to day functioning. 
> Declining performance in school or work. 
> Feeling a significant decline in intellectual acuity. 
> Feeling a loss of competence. 
> Intermittent distorted memory. Short/long term memory lapses. Forgetfulness, poor or loss of  short term memory.  Impaired memory functions (lost items, missed appointments, retold stories) Dementias 
> Tendency to get geographically disorientated; suddenly forgetting where a familiar destination is. Getting lost. Going to the wrong place. Mimics Alzheimer Disease. 
> Progressive decline in cognitive abilities over the years. Drop in measurable IQ Infection 

Dental Disturbances 
> Difficulty chewing, pain in teeth,  
> Dental problems; chronic gingivitis, receding  gums, thinning enamel. 
> Sudden pain within each tooth 
> Painful gums 
> Painful/stiff jaw, mimics TMJ 

Digestive System Disturbances 
(Borreliosis-caused Gut Palsy) Nerves sending incorrect messages to digestive system. Gastrointestinal tract paralysis and related abnormalities can occur anywhere along the entire length of the tract.  
>Paralysis or partial paralysis of the tongue, gag reflex, esophagus, stomach, and nearby organs, small and/or large intestines. 
> Change in smell/taste. 
> Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or speaking. 
> Disturbances of tongue, gag reflex, numbness. 
> Frequent heartburn  
> Gastroesophageal reflux or Rumination Disorder (which often leads to feeling starved and then over-eating) 
> Eating disorders; under or over-eating.  
> Not knowing when you are hungry or full. 
> Unexplained weight gain or weight loss. 
> Stomach pain 
> Upset stomach 
> Nausea, vomiting. 
> Belly pain, abdominal cramps, intestinal spasms 
> Bloated belly. 
> Unusual constipation: putty like/unresponsive to laxatives. 
>(Stops for many days and suddenly restarts for no particular reason) Intestinal pseudo-obstruction. 
> Unexplained diarrhea with sometimes blood in runny stools. Mimics Irritable Bowel Syndrome. 
> Colitis (inflammation of intestine) Mimics Crohn’s disease 
> Reluctance to go to school/work /going out to eat because of bouts of diarrhea. 
> During night, rectal muscle/bowel cramping giving an urge to defecate. Proctalgia fugax 
> Fecal soiling in children after being trained. 
> Mild Liver function abnormalities; liver infection, inflammation, enlargement, elevated enzymes, (spirochaeta hepatitis) 
> Enlarged spleen, 
> Gallbladder and bile duct disturbances 
> Disturbances of any part of the intestines. 
> Intestinal Microbial Flora imbalance 
> Heightened response to alcohol, sweets or caffeine 

Ears and Hearing Disturbances 
Eight nerve  
> High pitched whining, buzzing, clicking, ringing, buzzing, hissing, humming, ticking, whistling, roaring, beeping or a "whooshing" sound, as of wind or waves, or other sound in one or  both ears.Tinnitius 
> Pain in ear(s) with no medical cause. 
> Sound sensitivity (Some noises causes extreme irritability) 
> Decreased hearing in one or both ears. Hearing loss. Plugged ears. 
> Ears popping

Early treatment of LD (within the first few weeks after initial infection) is straightforward and almost always results in a full cure. Treatment begun after the first three weeks will also likely provide a cure, but the cure rate decreases the longer treatment is delayed.

Doxycycline, amoxicillin and ceftin are the three oral antibiotics most highly recommended for treatment of all but a few symptoms of LD. A recent study of Lyme arthritis in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that a four-week course of oral doxycycline is just as effective in treating late LD, and much less expensive, than a similar course of intravenous Ceftriaxone (Rocephin) unless neurological or severe cardiac abnormalities are present. If these symptoms are present, the study recommends immediate intravenous (IV) treatment.

Treatment of late-Lyme patients can be more complicated. Usually LD in its later stages can be treated effectively, but individual variation in the rate of disease progression and response to treatment may, in some cases, render standard antibiotic treatment regimens ineffective. In a small percentage of late-Lyme patients, the disease may persist for many months or even years. These patients will experience slow improvement and resolution of their persisting symptoms following oral or IV treatment that eliminated the infection.

Although treatment approaches for patients with late-stage LD have become a matter of considerable debate, many physicians and the Infectious Disease Society of America recognize that, in some cases, several courses of either oral or IV (depending on the symptoms presented) antibiotic treatment may be indicated. However, long-term IV treatment courses (longer than the recommended 4-6 weeks) are not usually advised due to adverse side effects. While there is some speculation that long-term courses may be more effective than the recommended 4-6 weeks, there is currently no scientific evidence to support this assertion. Click here for an article from the New England Journal of Medicine which presents clinical recommendations in the treatment and prevention of early Lyme disease.

For more details on Lyme disease Visit the CDC Website

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Got Bats? New Rule Protects Vulnerable Bats with Restriction on Exclusion

White-nose Syndrome Documented in Another New Hampshire County

CONCORD, N.H. -- Are you planning to remove bats from your property? Be aware that a new rule designed to protect bats prohibits the exclusion of bats from unoccupied structures by licensed Wildlife Control Operators from May 15 through August 15, unless the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services has documented a rabid bat on the property. The rule was established this year in response to growing concern for the status of many of New Hampshire's bat populations, which have been decimated by white-nose syndrome (WNS) in recent years.

Bats in New Hampshire have suffered greatly as a result of white-nose syndrome. Populations of five of the state’s eight species of bats have plummeted, with hibernating numbers of the once-common little brown bat plunging over 99%, according to Emily Brunkhurst, a biologist with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program.

"This rule helps protect our remaining bat populations during the time when they are raising young," said Brunkhurst. "While this measure is certainly helpful, we strongly urge people to avoid evicting bats from any structure, occupied or otherwise, during the summer months. Our bats are in big trouble, and, this is something concrete you can do to help them survive."

WNS was recently found for the first time in Rockingham County, bringing the total number of New Hampshire counties where the deadly bat disease has been found to four.

"It was very sad to see bats with white muzzles this winter in a new county. So far we only know the fungus is on the bats, but not if they are severely infected. We had no dead bats to test, which is good. We will continue to monitor these hibernating bat colonies to see how they do," said Brunkhurst.

There are indications that some bats are surviving several years of exposure to WNS. Bats in a maternity colony in Fort Drum, N.Y., have returned to breed for at least three years in a row. There are also a small number of bats still hibernating in three of the New York caves where WNS was first found. A new banding effort this year may provide some insight into whether the returning bats are the same individuals.

In New Hampshire, biologists are continuing to investigate some World War II bunkers where bats hibernate, to see if these may be serving as refuges from the fungus. In March 2011, biologists banded several bats there and tested them for the fungus. Unfortunately, five bats did test positive for the fungus, and yet they looked healthy. This year, nine banded bats returned to the bunkers, including three northern long-eared bats, one of the species hardest hit by WNS.

"Two of the returning bats had previously tested positive for the fungus, so it was encouraging to know they had survived," said Brunkhurst. "In March, we again tested big brown and long-eared bats for the fungus, and banded those we could reach. Sadly, three new bats showed visible fungus, and we will not be able to track them over time, as they were up on a high ceiling and could not be captured for banding. Perhaps this year's early spring helped them survive, as they could get food earlier than usual."

So far, there has been no success with finding a treatment for WNS, and the disease continues to appear in new bat colonies across the country every winter; it has spread from the Northeast through the Midwest and arrived in states in the Deep South and west of the Mississippi River this year.

"Summer surveys are echoing what winter ones have shown us, that there are few bats left in the skies over New York, Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire," said Brunkhurst. "But there are ways that you can help. If you have a bat colony, please allow it to remain. If you need to remove it, please do not do so until after the bat pups are ready to fly off. They need the roost for a week or so after they learn to fly, for protection during the day. By mid-August, they will have left with their mothers to fatten up and seek winter shelter. Then you can plug up those access holes."

To learn more about New Hampshire's bats, white-nose syndrome, and how you can help, visit

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