By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Lyme disease is about 10 times more common than previously reported, according to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since our area is a hotbed for Lyme disease. It shows as many as 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease, and federal health officials are calling it a tremendous public health problem. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more.
Chester county, where Kathy Spreen lives, has one of the highest rates of Lyme disease in the country. She’s a doctor who treats it, and she and her family have had several bouts with tick-borne diseases.
New government numbers show it’s much more widespread than previously thought, especially in the northeast.
“It gets to be a very complicated medical issue,” said Dr. Spreen. She has joint problems from Lyme and had a knee replaced. Her son had three years of serious Lyme related complications and co-infections.
“I didn’t really believe he was going to survive. There is a significant minority that have on going symptoms that can be absolutely devastating and debilitating,” said Dr. Spreen.
Lyme disease and related illnesses caused by ticks are often misdiagnosed. Symptoms can be vague, flu-like.
Dr. Spreen’s life was so impacted by Lyme she wrote a book called “Compendium of Tick-Borne Disease” that was just published.
“The majority of confirmed Lyme cases the patient never even remembers the tick bite. Second of all, the majority of confirmed Lyme cases never have a bullseye rash,” said Dr. Spreen.
She says there are all kinds of myths and misinformation about Lyme, like a negative blood test doesn’t mean you don’t have Lyme.
“Health care providers need to be more aware,” said Dr. Spreen.
An important part of awareness is prevention, protecting yourself from ticks in areas populated by deer and always using insect repellant.
“I like to recommend for myself and others to use a repellant like deet,” said Dr. Spreen.
Once there’s an accurate diagnosis, Lyme is usually treated with antibiotics.
For more information, visit the links below:
Lyme Disease Information- http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/
“Compendium of Tick-Borne Disease” Book Information- http://www.tickpearls.com/