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Entries in Lyme Disease (6)

Friday
May182012

Teen Blames Accent, Violent Seizures on Lyme Disease

Photo Courtesy Elaina(NEW YORK) -- You’d never know it sitting across from 16-year-old Elaina that she suffers from a rare and debilitating case of Lyme disease. The spark-plug of a teen is bright, bubbly, and optimistic in the face of what she describes as a four-year nightmare.

She believes she was bitten at age 12 by a tick on a soccer field in her New Hampshire town and consequently developed a co-infection of Lyme and another bacterial parasitic illness called Bartonella.

In most, Lyme disease will manifest in fatigue or chronic pain. Not so for Elaina.

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Her symptoms have ranged from seizures to loss of motor function to light and sound sensitivity. Most unusual of all is what she describes as a tightening of muscles in her throat brought on by stress and fatigue. The result, she says, is an altered spell-like state during which she speaks in what sounds like a Russian accent. Sometimes, she can’t even remember what she says or does during those episodes.

ABC News cameras caught the speech disorder during an interview with the teen, whose last name and hometown is being withheld.

And here are videos that her mother, Becky, filmed for Elaina’s blog.

The symptoms from which she suffers have caused skepticism among medical professionals, some of whom speculate that she is faking it for attention.

But her physician, Dr. Lynn Durand, says that while he can’t explain it, he doesn’t doubt it either. “Lyme can have some very strange symptoms,” he said. “And I think what’s so important about Lyme disease is that patients will present with strange symptoms and, we, the medical community, will not know what to make of it, and unfortunately we think, ‘If the diagnosis isn’t in my head, it must be in the patient’s head, so they must be making this up.’

“My feeling is that it’s very, very important to take the patients at their word and hear what they have and really try to explore what the causes are.”

Watch the full story on ABC's 20/20 Friday at 10 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr032012

High March Temps May Lead to Early Allergies, Bed Bugs

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While most people enjoyed the unseasonably warm March temperatures, the early-bird spring may contribute to a host of health problems, experts said.

More than 7,500 daily record-high temperatures were set last month, and that included more than 540 places that set all-time highs, according to Chris Dolce, a meteorologist at Weather.com.

"We had a lot of precipitation during the winter and now we have these unseasonably warm temperatures," said Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of NY.  "That really primes the pump for what we're seeing now."

Bassett said the phone has been "ringing off the hook" with patients suffering from allergies due to the unseasonably warm temperatures.  He said allergy season started about 14 days early because of the weather and will likely run about a month longer than usual this year.  Trees pollinate earlier after mild winters, and if spring fluctuates between warm and cold spells, there will be intense periods of pollen release during the warm times, and overall plants will grow and release more pollen than usual.

For those who live in bed bug-happy areas like New York, experts warned that the invasive critters may be in full effect a lot earlier this year.

Timothy Wong, technical director of M & M Pest Control in New York City, said business gets "out of control" in the summer because eggs hatch more quickly in warmer weather.  In colder temperatures, eggs take between seven and 14 days to hatch, but in the warmth, they hatch in six to 10 days, Wong said.

Once the temperature hits 65 degrees outdoors, everything changes, Wong said.

Bed bugs might not be the only insect terror to hit an early upswing.  Experts say there may be an early surge of ticks, and in turn, Lyme disease, because of the warm weather.

"Ticks ... are fussy, and high heat, high humidity or cold can dampen, but they are very local in that density of ticks can vary merely hundred yards apart in a given region," Dr. Paul Auwaerter, clinical director of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, wrote in an email.

As the weather continues to warm, Auwaerter suggested that people who spend time outdoors should be "on the watch for ticks at this time and do careful inspection, use DEET if in the bushes/woods, wear long pants/shirts."

"Warmer weather certainly means an earlier start to the tick season, and I have had patients bringing in ticks as early as the last week of February this year," Auwaerter said.  "Whether this translates into more cases of tick-borne infections is unclear."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun292011

Sting of Summer: Protect Yourself from Bites and Burns

Photos.com/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If this Fourth of July is anything like the last national holiday, Memorial Day, families and travelers headed to the beach will want to keep their eyes peeled to the sand and the sun, not just the fireworks-brightened sky.

Beachgoers who braved the Florida coastline Memorial Day weekend were greeted with the wrong kind of bang -- hundreds of painful stings.  Because of steady Atlantic winds, the beaches were swamped with reddish-colored jellyfish, known as mauve stingers, resulting in more than 800 reported stings among the beachgoers.

Now that summer has started, the Florida jellyfish debacle is a sharp reminder of the many stings, burns, nips, bites, and rashes that arise when the temperature heats up and people head outdoors.  ABC News spoke with pediatricians, dermatologists, and emergency medicine experts to pull together a guide to preventing, identifying, and treating the various ills that can accompany your summer fun.

Whether you're headed to the beach or just outside to your backyard, read on to protect yourself from enduring the stings of summer.

When Jellyfish Attack

Although there are many different species of jellyfish throughout the coastal United States, the resulting sting is largely the same.  When you come into contact with a jellyfish, either underwater or when they're beached on land, small barbs in the tentacles catch on your skin and cause red welts.

If you think you've been stung by a jellyfish (and given how painful a jellyfish sting is, you usually know it), the best thing to do is rinse the sting in saltwater, not freshwater, says Dr. Lee Winans, head of the emergency room at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce, Florida.

"The little barbs are packets of poison, and if you use freshwater, it will cause them to rupture and make the reaction worse," he says.

Rubbing or patting the area can also cause these packets to rupture, so take a shell or credit card and scrape the barbs off the area while rinsing in the saltwater, says Dr. James Schmidt, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia.

Sun Burn vs. Sun Poisoning

We all know we should be wearing sunscreen, but sunburns still happen.  The question is, when is a sunburn more than just a "use some aloe and get some shade" situation?

When sunburn is severe, causing blisters or covering a large part of the body, it can result in sun poisoning -- an extension of heat stroke that is marked by dehydration, fever, and headache.  Sunburn is a form of inflammation, so when a significant area of skin is inflamed, the body reacts to the inflammation with flu-like symptoms, says Dr. Neil Korman, a dermatologist at U.H. Case Medical Center.

The Bite from the Mystery Bug

Bees and hornet stings are usually not problematic unless you are allergic to their sting or if multiple stings are received at once.  Wheezing or excessive swelling around the face or site of sting should be checked out by a doctor immeidately, especially if it seems the person is having an allergic reaction to the sting, says Winans.

As for spider bites, most are harmless, but a few species of poisonous spiders can cause more serious reactions.  In the southern U.S., brown recluse spiders can result in large, painful bites that, left untreated, can lead to loss of a limb.  Unlike normal spider bites, which get better over the course of a few days, poisonous bites will only get worse and the skin around the bite can start to die, says Winans.

Chigger, mosquito, and fire ant bites, while painful and itchy, are benign.  They usually appear as small itchy bumps, or in the case of ant bites, small pus-filled bumps. "Put topical over-the-counter steroid cream on bites, but try not to itch them, that will only open them up to a possible infection," Winans says.

Lyme Disease: Beware the Bull's Eye

A bite from a tick is usually not felt and will not itch, but if the tick is a carrier for Lyme disease, the resulting infection can be severe.  The easiest way to diagnose Lyme disease is by the red ring rash that often, but not always, accompanies a bite by a tick with Lyme.  The "bull's-eye rash" will develop three to 30 days after a bite and will be accompanied by fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you remove a tick from you and experience these symptoms following (even without the rash), see a doctor to get tested for Lyme disease, doctors say, because if not treated with antibiotics, Lyme can cause neurological, joint and cardiac problems over time, says Dr. Korman of U.H. Case Medical Center.

Rash Reaction

Swimmer's itch consists of many small, itchy, slightly painful red bumps that are usually noticed following a swim in the ocean.  Usually, the rash is just another form of a jellyfish sting and results when microscopic jellyfish larva get caught in the fabric of one's swimsuit, says Schmidt.  Swimmer's itch can also be caused by other parasites present in fresh or saltwater.  The rash is benign and can be treated with topical hydrocortisone cream but will otherwise go away on its own, doctors say.

Heat rash is not from contact with any plant or animal but merely the product of skin irritation in damp or sandy conditions, such as wearing a wet bathing suit over an extended period of time.  The red, raised, itchy bumps are sometimes referred to as "prickly heat" and occur when the sweat glands become clogged, says Korman.

Rashes from poison oak, poison ivy, or poison sumac are par for the course for summertime excursions into wooded areas, and while annoying, are usually not serious.  Approximately 85 percent of the population will develop an allergic reaction if exposed to poison ivy, oak or sumac, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun212011

Five Ways to Prevent Tick-Borne Diseases as Tick Season Begins

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It is tick season in many parts of the country right now, and the blood-sucking parasite is not just a nuisance, it can also pass along potentially fatal diseases like Lyme disease and the lesser-known babesiosis.

The exact same tiny black-legged deer tick that can transmit Lyme disease is also responsible for a rare but fast-growing and perhaps more dangerous disease called babesiosis. Babesiosis, which infects and destroys red blood cells, can be fatal 10 percent to 20 percent of the time in people with already weakened immune systems.

"People who lack a spleen, people who have cancer, people who have HIV, people who are immunosuppressed, on immunosuppressive drugs [are most vulnerable]," said Dr. Peter Krause of Hartford, Conn.

The disease has been seen most commonly in parts of the Northeast and upper Midwest, and usually peaks during the warm months from April to September, when ticks are most prevalent.

Like Lyme disease, the tick has to have dug into the skin and fed for hours before it can transmit babesiosis. Unlike Lyme disease, babesiosis is easy to miss since it does not leave a tell-tale skin rash like most forms of Lyme disease.

If caught early, babesiosis is easily treated. Symptoms for the otherwise healthy are limited to chills and head and body aches. But if it is ignored or unnoticed by those with immune problems, the disease can be fatal.

The National Institute of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives these tips on the best way to prevent these diseases and remove the ticks:

Prevent Tick Bites: Use a chemical repellent with DEET, permethrin or picaridin, wear light-colored protective clothing and tuck your pant legs into your socks.

Check for Ticks: Check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks after going outside in tick-prone areas. Be especially careful in wooded or bushy areas with high grass. The most common areas where ticks are found are under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist and especially in the hair.

Wash Off Ticks: After coming indoors, bathe or shower as soon as possible to wash off any loosely attached ticks and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.

Remove the Tick: The CDC recommends you use this process to remove ticks once they have attached themselves to your skin: "Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub or soap and water."

Follow-up: If a rash or fever develops within weeks of removing a tick, immediately see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun012011

The Sting of Summer: Be Prepared, From Bites to Burns

Photos[dot]com/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For those who vacationed on the Florida coastline this Memorial Day, the summer season launched with a bang, or more specifically, with hundreds of stings.

Because of steady Atlantic winds, this past holiday weekend the beaches were swamped with reddish-colored jellyfish, known as mauve stingers, resulting in more than 800 reported stings among the beachgoers.

Though summer has not officially started, the Florida jellyfish debacle is a sharp reminder of the many stings, burns, nips, bites, and rashes that arise during the summer months ahead.  ABC News spoke with pediatricians, dermatologists and emergency medicine experts to pull together a guide to preventing, identifying and treating the various ills that can accompany your summer fun.

When Jellyfish Attack

Although there are many different species of jellyfish throughout the coastal United States, the resulting sting is largely the same.  When you come into contact with a jellyfish, either underwater or when they're beached on land, small barbs in the tentacles catch on your skin and cause red welts.

If you think you've been stung by a jellyfish (and given how painful a jellyfish sting is, you usually know it), the best thing to do is rinse the sting in saltwater, not freshwater, says Dr. Lee Winans, head of the emergency room at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce, Florida.

"The little barbs are packets of poison, and if you use freshwater, it will cause them to rupture and make the reaction worse," he says.

Rubbing or patting the area can also cause these packets to rupture, so take a shell or credit card and scrape the barbs off the area while rinsing in the saltwater, says Dr. James Schmidt, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia.

Sun Burn vs. Sun Poisoning

We all know we should be wearing sunscreen, but sunburns still happen.  The question is, when is a sunburn more than just a "use some aloe and get some shade" situation?

When sunburn is severe, causing blisters or covering a large part of the body, it can result in sun poisoning -- an extension of heat stroke that is marked by dehydration, fever, and headache.  Sunburn is a form of inflammation, so when a significant area of skin is inflamed, the body reacts to the inflammation with flu-like symptoms, says Dr. Neil Korman, a dermatologist at U.H. Case Medical Center.

The Bite from the Mystery Bug

Bees and hornet stings are usually not problematic unless you are allergic to their sting or if multiple stings are received at once.  Wheezing or excessive swelling around the face or site of sting should be checked out by a doctor immeidately, especially if it seems the person is having an allergic reaction to the sting, says Winans.

As for spider bites, most are harmless, but a few species of poisonous spiders can cause more serious reactions.  In the southern U.S., brown recluse spiders can result in large, painful bites that, left untreated, can lead to loss of a limb.  Unlike normal spider bites, which get better over the course of a few days, poisonous bites will only get worse and the skin around the bite can start to die, says Winans.

Chigger, mosquito, and fire ant bites, while painful and itchy, are benign.  They usually appear as small itchy bumps, or in the case of ant bites, small pus-filled bumps. "Put topical over-the-counter steroid cream on bites, but try not to itch them, that will only open them up to a possible infection," Winans says.

Lyme Disease: Beware the Bull's Eye

A bite from a tick is usually not felt and will not itch, but if the tick is a carrier for Lyme disease, the resulting infection can be severe.  The easiest way to diagnose Lyme disease is by the red ring rash that often, but not always, accompanies a bite by a tick with Lyme.  The "bull's-eye rash" will develop three to 30 days after a bite and will be accompanied by fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you remove a tick from you and experience these symptoms following (even without the rash), see a doctor to get tested for Lyme disease, doctors say, because if not treated with antibiotics, Lyme can cause neurological, joint and cardiac problems over time, says Dr. Korman of U.H. Case Medical Center.

Rash Reaction

Swimmer's itch consists of many small, itchy, slightly painful red bumps that are usually noticed following a swim in the ocean.  Usually, the rash is just another form of a jellyfish sting and results when microscopic jellyfish larva get caught in the fabric of one's swimsuit, says Schmidt.  Swimmer's itch can also be caused by other parasites present in fresh or saltwater.  The rash is benign and can be treated with topical hydrocortisone cream but will otherwise go away on its own, doctors say.

Heat rash is not from contact with any plant or animal but merely the product of skin irritation in damp or sandy conditions, such as wearing a wet bathing suit over an extended period of time.  The red, raised, itchy bumps are sometimes referred to as "prickly heat" and occur when the sweat glands become clogged, says Korman.

Rashes from poison oak, poison ivy, or poison sumac are par for the course for summertime excursions into wooded areas, and while annoying, are usually not serious.  Approximately 85 percent of the population will develop an allergic reaction if exposed to poison ivy, oak or sumac, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May102011

Lyme Disease to Blame for Woman's Erratic Behavior at NYC Hotel?

Ablestock.com/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The woman who reportedly wandered around the lobby of New York's famous Waldorf-Astoria hotel this past weekend wearing her panties over her pants, muttering to herself and carrying a gun has prompted medical experts to revisit the question of whether Lyme disease can have psychiatric manifestations.

After police charged Marilyn Michose, of Danbury, Connecticut, with fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, the 46-year-old's mother told newspapers that her daughter has Lyme disease and the medication she takes makes her "manic."

It was unclear whether Michose's mother was referring to medication for Lyme disease or for some other condition.  Michose was taken to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation after the incident.

Lyme disease is caused by the bite of an infected deer tick.  It commonly causes a skin rash, fever, headache and fatigue.  Whether the disease can have psychiatric manifestations has long been a controversy in the medical community.

While they can only speculate without knowing more about Michose's case, some experts believe a percentage of patients with Lyme disease go on to develop serious problems that might affect the brain, heart, eyes and other organs.

Skeptical experts, on the other hand, say there's little scientific evidence to back up the notion that long-term psychiatric problems can develop.  They say chronic Lyme disease, which can resist treatment and cause a litany of problems for many years, simply doesn't exist.

"With Lyme disease, you can develop some significant psychiatric problems," said Dr. Brian Fallon, director of Columbia University Medical Center's Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center in New York.  "Lyme disease is an infection that can spread throughout the body and when it spreads to the central nervous system, it can cause a wide variety of manifestations, such as memory problems, verbal fluency problems and sometimes in the more acute phases of brain infection, it can cause encephalitis, which is characterized by severe confusion or personality changes."

Fallon went on to say that about 15 percent of patients infected by Lyme disease who are not treated will develop neurologic problems.  Symptoms usually appear in the first few weeks after the tick bite.  Such problems, however, tend to go away after treatment but Fallon said sometimes, people get worse before they get better.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio