What do you know about Lyme disease? If you are like many people in Florida, the answer is, “not much.” Long thought to be a disease that only Northerners had to be wary of, Lyme disease has made its way to the Southern states. Florida, in fact, is listed in the top 20 states when it comes to prevalence of the disease.
In 2015, a group of five mothers began a campaign to raise awareness about Lyme disease in Florida. You may have seen videos of friends posted to social media showing them biting into a lime. The grassroots, viral campaign was dubbed the Lyme disease challenge and participants were urged to pass along the message.
While Lyme disease itself isn’t necessarily deadly, it can cause serious health complications and is one of the most misdiagnosed diseases in the country. It can also develop into Lyme carditis, which is potentially fatal. Doctors are well aware of Lyme disease and its symptoms, but those symptoms mimic those seen in autism, ALS, MS, Fibromyalgia and other conditions. Diagnosing Lyme disease can be difficult, and that is assuming that sufferers seek medical treatment.
It is expected that there will be a rise in Lyme disease this year, particularly in the north. An explosion in the tick population, especially in the deer or black-footed tick population, means that people will be seeing these tiny creatures more often. Because the disease is so often misdiagnosed, it is important to protect yourself to the extent possible. Here is more information to help you do just that.
Ticks to Worry About
There are a variety of ticks found in Florida. Take a walk in any grassy or wooded area and you may find a Lone Star tick, an American Dog tick, a Gulf Coast tick or a Soft tick. The one you need to worry about when it comes to Lyme disease is the Black-Legged, or Deer, tick.
The Black-Legged tick attaches to almost any animal that it can. Once it attaches, it feeds on the blood of the host animal and its body swells. It is often not until this happens that the tiny arachnids are noticed. The good news is that a tick needs to be attached to its host for at least 36 hours before Lyme disease is transmitted.
There are ways to protect yourself from ticks.
- Long pants and sleeves. If you are going to hike or walk in areas where ticks may be present (meaning anywhere with long grass or in the woods), wear long pants and sleeves. You may also want to consider wearing a hat to prevent ticks from landing in your hair.
- Sprays. There are several tick-repellent sprays on the market that will have ticks looking for another host.
- Pet protection. There are spot-on and oral tick preventives on the market that are quite effective. Dogs should be given these products once every 30 days year round.
- Tick check. Before you get back in your car or enter your house, perform a tick check on you and your pets. Run your hands over your pets fur in a backwards motion so you can see skin. Run your fingers through your own hair and shake out your clothes. If you are hiking with a friend, perform tick checks on each other so you don’t miss any areas.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
If you have been exposed to Lyme disease, pay attention to your body. You may believe that you are experiencing the flu in the beginning stages of Lyme disease. Many people will have a rash, but some won’t. If you notice a bull’s-eye rash it is indicative of the disease and should be checked, especially if other symptoms are present.
People with Lyme disease may experience headache, muscle aches and fatigue. Nausea, joint pain and fever are also symptoms experienced in the beginning stages of the disease. If you experience any of these, seek medical attention.
Doctors in various camps disagree about the treatment of Lyme disease. While some believe that a short course of antibiotics is all that is needed, others treat the disease more aggressively. It is recommended that patients speak with their medical providers at length to determine a course of treatment that both parties are comfortable with.
In the late stages of the disease or in chronic cases, the symptoms may also need to be treated. In some cases, Lyme disease is treated in a manner similar to that offered for heart failure or tuberculosis.
What is agreed upon is that the earlier the disease is detected, the more successful treatment is. This is why it is so important to receive an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible.
If you believe that you have been misdiagnosed by a doctor in West Palm Beach, reach out to our team of experienced medical malpractice attorneys. We will review the details of your case and advise you of your legal options. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages and more. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation.