“Five reasons to not totally panic about ticks and Lyme disease”
Find the Article here: https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/growth-curve/five-reasons-not-totally-panic-about-ticks-and-lyme-disease
With suggestions and statements like “Lyme disease is generally easy to treat” and “It’s all overkill,” the article written by Meghan Rosen gained a lot of attention from the Lyme community. She outlined her experience with a tick that she found on the cheek of her son in the summer of 2015, and the subsequent brush off of the primary care and pediatric infectious disease specialist she rushed her child to after discovering the Tick.
Due to the controversy surrounding the nature of the post, comments were quickly closed as angered patients and health care providers attempted to correct the mindset of readers and the article’s author.
Some of the comments that were left up on the article:
“Much in his article just isn’t true. There is no study proving it takes 36 -48 hours to transmit disease. There also are other tick borne pathogens that can transmit from minutes to a few hours. 50% may develop a rash and of those about 10% the classic bullseye. At LEAST the parents should watch for signs/symptoms of fever, lethargy, irritability in the future and remember that tick bite. If under 5% bitten are infected then why are estimates by the CDC that at least 300,000 are infected each year? Panic, no….concern, absolutely. Prevention of tick bites the only guarantee. And identification of type of tick, amount of engorgement are helpful, testing for pathogens it carries can be beneficial for either peace of mind or awareness of possible infection.” – Independent in NY
“The problem is there is not enough panic with Lyme disease. I never got the bullseye rash and got shuffled through doctors for years with declining health. Eventually i developed a brain infection where i could not speak without a stutter and could not drive because i was too confused. I can now speak after 6 months of Bicillin injections but i still suffer with chronic symptoms so bad i can barely function. So i think little panic is well deserved in the case of lyme disease.” –
“What’s sad about this is people will go by this just like I did when I used to read about Lyme disease. The media made it seem like no big deal. I told my son to watch for a rash. The rash never came and flu symptoms didn’t come until several months later. The doctor said it was a spring virus. He turned chronic because of the bad information that is spit out by the media. Easy to treat? We lose patients all the time. When a Lyme patient gets a stroke, heart attack, liver failure, or kidney failure and dies… they put that as the COD, not Lyme. I would strongly watch your child. I was bit at the age of 4. It wasn’t on me but 12 hours. I was fine most of my childhood but pregnancy suppressed my immune system and symptoms started coming out over 20 years. If your child starts having problems… and I hope they don’t… get him checked for Lyme Disease. Lyme can cause over 350 chronic conditions and it is very hard to detect in children. They can’t tell you their leg hurts. You don’t have to limp when you have pain. They can’t tell you when they are having brain fog. I’m with the Kentucky Lyme Disease Association. We have patients who got Lyme with a tick on them for less than 2 hours. Transmission can be immediate as the tick uses it’s saliva to numb it’s host. They also use it to keep the hosts blood from coagulating. The bacteria has been found in the ticks saliva. You can get an infection just from touching the tick. This is why they say wear gloves. They are finding pathogens even in flea and tick excrements which can be on the ticks body. This is why they say wash the area really well. You need to do a lot more research like I did. Lyme can kill and so can ignorance.” – Looneytick
The Author of the article shared a sympathetic, yet mediocre retraction of most of the assumptions made in the article:
“Not long after publishing this blog post, we received many comments and e-mails from readers. Some wanted to share their own experiences with Lyme disease; others heatedly disagreed with the numbers I presented or with comments made by the scientists quoted.
I had written the blog post with the hope that it might help people dealing with tick bites understand some of the risks of tick-borne diseases. When my own son was bitten, I panicked — mainly because I didn’t know anything about his risk or what to do next. I thought sharing my own personal experience could enlighten those who found themselves in a similar situation.
After checking out CDC guidelines, scientific articles (such as this review (http://www.id.theclinics.com/a… ) about Lyme disease in children and this review (http://www.id.theclinics.com/a… ) on the epidemiology of Lyme disease), and interviewing scientists in the field for the post, I learned a little bit more about the subject — but the amount of info out there about ticks and the diseases they carry could fit in several books. The post summarized the highlights of what I found, but there are plenty more resources (http://www.mayoclinic.org/dise… ) out there for people who would like to know more.
The diseases that ticks spread can be painful and debilitating, as some readers pointed out. The advice to not totally panic about ticks was not intended to minimize people’s suffering or to deny the potential severity of Lyme disease, and it doesn’t mean there’s no cause for alarm. Instead, it was meant to focus readers on the available data on risk.
Some readers wondered where the CDC’s numbers came from. For example, the CDC reports (http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/transm… ) that in most cases, a tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours before the bacteria that causes Lyme disease can be transmitted. While the exact time window is not known (and may differ from person to person), several studies have tried to pin it down. One 2001 study in mice, for example (http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/… ), showed that the maximum transmission of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease occurred between 48 and 72 hours. Out of 66 attempts to infect mice with the bacteria, zero became infected when a tick was attached for only 24 hours. An earlier mouse study (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu…) found that just one out of 14 mice became infected after a tick had fed on it for 36 hours.
A 1997 study in humans (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu… ) found that ticks attached for 72 hours were much more likely to transmit the bacteria than ticks that were attached for less time. Still, these studies can give only rough estimates, a lot of the work relies on animal data and the findings may only be relevant to people who spot a tick on their body early.
One reader questioned the claim that nearly 90 percent of kids with Lyme disease develop a rash at the bite site. This number came from a 1996 paper (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu… ) that examined 201 Connecticut children diagnosed with Lyme disease. While most of these kids did get a rash, it’s true that not every child will, and the rate could be different for adults.
Though some scientists believe that Lyme disease doesn’t cause many deaths, one commenter suggested that some deaths thought to be due to stroke, heart attack or other conditions might actually be attributable to Lyme. Scientists cannot rule this possibility out, and some have tried to address the question. One 2010 study (http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/… ) reviewed 114 death records where Lyme disease was thought to have caused or contributed to death. Only one of the records listed details consistent with known clinical symptoms of the disease.
As scientists continue to study ticks and tick-borne diseases, I suspect that the CDC will periodically revise their numbers and guidelines (for example, based on three ongoing studies in 2013, the CDC updated their estimate (http://www.cdc.gov/media/relea… ) of how many people are diagnosed each year with Lyme disease). Tick-borne diseases are a controversial issue, and scientists still have much to learn about how Lyme and other diseases affect people’s bodies. But there are some aspects that many scientists agree on, and I tried to present those here.” – Meghan Rosen