Streams

Please Explain: Lyme Disease

Friday, July 16, 2010

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness in North America, and the number of reported cases has been steadily climbing over the last decade. We’re joined by Dr. Brian Fallon, associate professor of clinical psychiatry and director of the Lyme and Tick-borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University Medical Center, and Dr. Carolyn Britton, associate professor of clinical neurology at Columbia University Medical Center, and chief neurologist for the Lyme research studies conducted by Columbia’s Lyme and Tick-borne Diseases Research Center. They’ll discuss how the disease is spread, diagnosed, and treated, and how we can protect ourselves while we’re outside this summer.

Guests:

Dr. Carolyn Britton and Dr. Brian Fallon

The Morning Brief

Enter your email address and we’ll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.

Comments [38]

Re: Kristin bowler from Suffern NY

I would like to know what your daughter's symptoms were when she had Lyme arthritis. I recently had my son's test sent to IGenex. He was bitten by a tick seven years ago. He began to experience hip/knee pain so badly that he would fall to the ground when he tried to walk. After many tests to rule out cancer, etc. He was diagnosed with Toxic Synovitis. It eventually went away but he has suffered other many symptoms through the years. Noone ever mentioned Lyme Disease and I didn't know anything about it. My son is ten years old now.

May. 20 2011 08:07 PM
Kay from Suffolk County,NY

I have been told by friends on Shelter Island that a vaccine for Lyme disease has been developed but the company does not want to produce it since it is not cost effective for them. I was wondering if this was true.

Sep. 03 2010 02:17 PM
Jeannie from Manhattan

Use a medicine dropper to drop some alcohol on the tick. Wait a moment. Then easily remove the tick's head that's borrowed into the skin.

Sep. 03 2010 02:03 PM
Catherine Tice from New York

These are the best test panels for those who may be infected with Lyme: Igenex Lab - has a website: http://www.igenex.com/misdiagnosis.htm

Order panel # 6050 - Lyme panel

panel # 5090 - Co-infection panel
The CDC recommends only a 4-week course of antibiotics, no matter how long the length of infection, which is in many cases unknown. In Europe, in France in particular, doctors will prescribe much longer and more aggressive IV treatments for those who have been symptomatic for several months. This makes sense. It seems clear that a 4-week treatment will not necessarily cure the disease in individuals who have been symptomatic for several months or more than a year. These spirochetes are tenacious, and there are probably many instances in which patients are not re-infected, but simply not entirely cured. It would be prudent to have oneself tested a few months after treatment, again requesting the above test panels.
Finally, there are many young people who have been misdiagnosed with ALS, who in fact are infected with Lyme. There is a group of medical researchers who believe that Lou Gehrig, who lived in Lyme, CT, was in fact, infected with chronic Lyme himself, and not "Lou Gehrig's disease" or ALS.
Anyone who has lived in the northeast, and spent any time outdoors, who has been recently diagnosed with ALS, should also request the above tests for Lyme, in the event that a misdiagnosis has taken place. There is a very informative book about Lyme, "Cure Unknown" recommended to me by a rheumatologist who practiced for forty years. This doctor said that like syphilis, also a spirochete disease, Lyme is a "great imitator."

Jul. 20 2010 05:24 PM
ticktock

I can attest to the fact that it's possible to catch Lyme Disease in Manhattan because I was bitten by a tick in the company I worked for, that is no longer in business, it was common to see insects or rodent droppings in the office(s) right in the heart of the Garment District. I noticed the bulls-eye on the back of my hand one day, but didn't give it too much thought as it went away rather quickly. However within a month's time I noticed my energy levels were gradually fading to the point of only dragging myself from home to work only (if possible I wouldn't have gone). Weekends were spent sleeping all day only up for shower/food then back to sleep. I thought I had chronic fatigue/depressed with a job I disliked/lupus etc. Finally it all culminated with a near fainting en route to work one morning, upon having various blood test conducted that day I received a call from my doctor instructing my to p/u a prescription that afternoon and start taking it immediately. After 2 weeks my energy level was back to normal, if only he'd been my doctor during the onset of symptons I could have saved time/money only to be told to get more sleep: news flash I was sleeping so much (18+ hours a day on Sat and Sunday along with coming home crashing right after work)...it pays to be vigilant in the city/country everywhere as we live in a very transient world.

Jul. 19 2010 02:00 PM
MARYANN MEZYDLO from ALDEN NY

I HAVE HAD LYMES FOR AT LEAST 12 YRS NOW BUT IT WAS NOT FOUND UN 5 YRS AGO. LAB WORK WAS DONE BY IGENEX IN CL AND CAME BACK AFTER THEY DID A DNA POSITIVE LYMES. I JUST KEEP GETTING WORSE IT HAS HIT MY WHOLE BODY. NY TREATED IT FOR 4 WEEEKS OF IV AND SAID I DID NOT HAVE IT ANYMORE. THEY NEVER TESTED ME AGAIN I GOT WORSE AND NOW GET TREATED IN PA WHICH IS 3 HRS AWAY FROM US. BENN ON MANY IVS AND ANTIBITICS. GO TUES AGAIN TO BE PUT ON A DIFFERENT IV. WISH ME LUCK AND PRAY FOR ME. I FIGURE GOD IS THEY ONLY ONE THAT IS GOING TO HELP ME. I AM SO SICK. IN BED MOST OF THE TIME. CANNOT EVEN URINATE HAD TO HAVE A FOLEY PUT IN AND I LOST ALL MY MUCLES AND IT HAS HIR MY HEART AND BRAI. WENT INTO REHAB TO LEAR HOW TO GET UP WITH MY FISTS AND LEARNED HOW TO GET AROUD A LITTLE WITH A WALKER. GB ALL WHO GET LYMES. TO ME IF THEY DONT CATCH IT ON TIME IT IS HOPELESS. AND IF U HAVE IT AND GET PRGNANT YOUR CHILD WILL BE BORN WITH IT FOR IT IS IN YOUR BLOOD STREM. I COULD WRITE A BOOK ON LYMES BUT CANNOT WRITE. JUST TYPE

Jul. 17 2010 03:15 PM
Marielle from Brooklyn

NEVER attempt to remove the tick yourself with a tweezer - go to the emergency room immediately. My brother removed his with a tweezer, which cased the tick to release more of the infection, and he has been suffering for years.

Jul. 16 2010 03:19 PM
KFR from Long Island, NY

@ Arnold Klausner from North Jersey:

Yes, Lyme can be transmitted from mother to fetus. Several Lyme physicians have explained this to me. I did not know I had Lyme when I was pregnant (lab tests done by big labs were negative). I only turned up positive when I was tested with my daughter (she had many developmental delays). She was never bitten by a tick and tested positive, and I was not bitten after having her and was positive as well.

Jul. 16 2010 03:04 PM
dboy from nyc

Arnold klausner from North Jersey:

Not unless you're doin' it in the bushes!

Jul. 16 2010 02:09 PM
Sandra aka DayPack from Bronx

One more question:

Are there natural, EFFECTIVE cures, other than antibiotics?

Thanks!

Jul. 16 2010 01:56 PM
Arnold klausner from North Jersey

1. Can Lyme disease be transmitted to an unborn fetus from an infected mother?
2. Can the disease be contacted from sexual contact?

Jul. 16 2010 01:56 PM
Jim from Irington, NY

Jim from Irvington, NY
Several comments so far.
People who have the ring rash almost certainly as the disease because the ring represents the migration of the spirochete out from the original bite. It may not only be obvious.
I suspect Dr. Britton would also agree that you can have infection without disease. This is a common phenomenon in infectious disease where people infected can exceed the patients showing the disease by a ratio of 200:1,
It leads to difficulty is separating Lyme disease from diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis.
A Swiss army knife may help on hikes although you do have up to twenty-four hours to get the the tick off.
How do you distinguish late latent disease from reinfection?
Have relapsing syndromes following treatment been documented by PVR

Jul. 16 2010 01:50 PM
Lillian from Manhattan

Are there any people who get Lyme disease who do well?

Jul. 16 2010 01:50 PM
Kristin bowler from Suffern NY

I never saw any symptoms in my 5 year old daughter until she developed lyme induced arthritis in her knee. She was treated with amoxacillon for 4 weeks which completely cleared up the symptoms (within days). The worry now is that I have no idea if she was bitten a year ago or a month ago... What are the chances she will develop symptoms again or have problems down the road?

Jul. 16 2010 01:49 PM
Riva from nyc

My mother, who lives in Lyme, CT, has gotten Lyme disease five or six times... The ticks seem to love her. My step-father has only gotten it once or twice and my brother zero times, I believe, though they all do yard work and gardening etc.

Is there anything you can do with diet -- or anything other than toxic bug spray -- to keep ticks away? What is the name of the lawn spray you mentioned and is it safe?

Jul. 16 2010 01:49 PM
dage from park slope

Are there repellents other than DEET that are effective? Is lemon grass effective ?I've read that DEET causes endocrine damage.

Jul. 16 2010 01:47 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Isn't a smooth, steady pull w/the tweezers better for removing a tick safely than a tug, which sounds more like a hard, sharp pull?

Jul. 16 2010 01:46 PM
Melody from nyc

Growing up in the south, I dealt with ticks all the time. Smoke (from a nearby match) or nail polish remover will get them out if you see them on you. Just make sure you get the whole bug and check yourself and pets anytime you've been around woods/bushes.

Jul. 16 2010 01:45 PM
Sandra aka DayPack from Bronx

As an avid hiker, I've been affected with Lyme Disease AT LEAST 2 times. The first time, the antibiotic Doxycycline NOT the Lyme Disease almost KILLED me, since I was highly allergic to it. I developed internal bleeding and Steven Johnson's syndrome. (the doctor's even thought I had syphillis!)

Is there any way to test if you are allergic to the "cure" before you take it???

The second time I was prescribed Cefuroxime, which I just finished recently. Does the Lyme ever REALLY go away??? I am in my 40's and feel really healthy. Am I doomed to some horrible neurological disease???????????

I do NOT want to stop hiking!

Thanks for your informative but grim show!

p.s. "Natural" repellents don't work. DEET rules--I think!
p.p.s. Ticks are EVERYWHERE!!!

Jul. 16 2010 01:45 PM
dboy from nyc

Maybe, you want to carefully grab it closer to the head with the tweezers, as opposed to the body.

I'm guessing the body is the storage point for the goo.

Jul. 16 2010 01:44 PM
sean from brooklyn

Most deer ticks are so tiny that people will never see them. Let alone be able to pull them off your body. Smaller than the smallest freckle on your body.

Jul. 16 2010 01:44 PM
vivian from brooklyn

There seems to be rising cases of anaplasmosis... i hear about this other disease more and more... can you please explain the difference between anaplasmosis and lyme?

Jul. 16 2010 01:44 PM
francesco from Montclair, NJ

Are the ticks kept away if one uses bug spray?

Jul. 16 2010 01:42 PM
Jim from Litchfield, Connecticut

Once you have had Lyme -- are you less symptomatic the next time you are exposed?

Jul. 16 2010 01:39 PM
ann from NYC

My husband and I both had the vaccine and a booster several years ago. The vaccine is useless. We've both had lyme since. But, more important, our blood tests always read Lyme because the antibodies from the vaccine remains in our systems. How can we get around the constant positive results.

Jul. 16 2010 01:39 PM
dboy from nyc

Melinda Clemente from Greenwich Village:

HOLY SMOKES!!!

Very scary!

Very sorry - glad you're o.k., finally!

Jul. 16 2010 01:38 PM
Esther from NYC

What do your guests have to say about the LymeVax (immunization for Lyme Disease)

Jul. 16 2010 01:36 PM
Richard from NJ

If I have had Lyme and have been successfully treated for it can I get it again? Will I always have the anti-bodies in my blood? Will the usual Lyme tests tell me anything valid?

Jul. 16 2010 01:35 PM
Jim from Litchfield County, CT

Once you have had Lyme disease, is your reaction less obvious if you are infected again? The first time I had an extreme headache, 102.7 degree fever and violent nauseous reaction. Curious if exposed again if I will be asymptomatic.

Jul. 16 2010 01:35 PM
Harvey W from Yorktown Heights, NY

I participated in a lyme vacine study years ago. Why isn't the vacine on the market?

Jul. 16 2010 01:34 PM
dboy from nyc

If you squeeze the thing with tweezers won't that squirt the contents into your bloodstream, too?

Jul. 16 2010 01:34 PM
A listener from Greenwich Village

I want to alert all that even in this urban concrete city you can be bitten by a Lyme tick. So to my fellow New Yorkers and tourists - learn from my misfortune. I contracted Lyme disease in the early '80's at the Union Square Farmer's Market - that's right - here in Manhattan. I ignorantly bought decorative beach grasses from a vendor from Long Island. I was very ill and I do not say this lightly. I was on antibiotics for 10 months (!) with the good news that I recovered. My rheumatologist at the time encouraged me when I was despairing that I would ever recover that I was lucky as she had patients who would never walk again or were dying. I hope that current diagnosis and treatment have improved since then.

Jul. 16 2010 01:33 PM
bruce vogel

I was up in Northern Vermont and asked if there are ticks and was told we we're too far north, that we were north of the tick line. is this correct.?

Jul. 16 2010 01:33 PM
JP from NJ

Please ask will submerging tic in water make them release (like soaking in a bathtub)? IF yes, how long must they be submerged?

Jul. 16 2010 01:26 PM
Daniel McIntosh from Manhattan

Thank you in advance for this public service. I contracted lyme disease last summer in Princeton (very over run deer population) & if it was not for a NYTimes article published last August, I would have not recognized the symptoms that I so clearly had. I managed to treat this early enough, but not without difficulty. The difficulty was convincing a doctor that I was willing to endure the risks of the anti-biotic treatment (x30 day course) in the case that my 'false positive' test results were accurate. It is often difficult to accurately diagnose and there are many 'false positive' blood tests that may prevent a diagnosis. I have since found out that many cases go undiagnosed & worse, cases get untreated because of a basic skepticism from physicians. So, your piece today and that NYTimes article speak to the importance of getting this very important public health message out there. Especially among the medical profession.

Jul. 16 2010 01:24 PM
Unheard from NYC

Could you please ask if there is any validity to the idea that Lyme Disease is a Bio-Weapon and possibly the result of some sort of mishap that resulted in the escape of the disease from the laboratory which led to its exposure to the public? I don't want to seem like a looney but there is a lot of mystery surrounding this disease. Rumors persist.

Jul. 16 2010 01:10 PM
Lynn from jersey city

My friends in Germany got a Lyme Disease vaccine. Any plans for vaccine in USA?

A dog park friend & medical student said there had been a vaccine here, but studies
showed a rise in Lyme disease cases b/c people stopped checking themselves for ticks.
We go to Lyme Ct with our dog each weekend and are on constant tick watch.
I'm tempted to use Advantix on my family.

Jul. 16 2010 01:06 PM
Joe Adams from North Eastern New Jersey

Are there other possible spreaders of Lyme disease besides ticks? What about mosquitos, bedbugs, biting flies, lice and fleas?

Jul. 16 2010 11:24 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.