It started with body aches and a headache. What was thought to be the flu, ended up being something more serious.
John Smith* (name changed for privacy) of Fayette County began to feel sick several weeks ago. His symptoms escalated over a couple weeks to the point he could barely get out of bed.
From body aches, headaches, fever, fatigue, neck pain and times where he could barely open his mouth, Smith started showing several signs of Lyme Disease, something he didn’t think he would ever contract.
“I do landscaping and this is my busy time of year,” Smith said. “I never miss work, but I missed almost a week of work because I could barely get out of bed. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t want to go to the doctor.”
After almost a week of an on-and-off fever and not being able to do daily tasks, Smith woke up with a large rash on his back and a few smaller places on his stomach. He knew something was wrong and finally decided to see a doctor.
It was a good thing he decided to go. Smith came to Rush Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Room where he was seen immediately. After several blood tests, he was put on an antibiotic for safety until he found out his results.
Within two days the emergency room called back, explaining to Smith he has Lyme’s disease.
Smith recalled pulling a tick off of him after turkey hunting several weeks back. This could have been the culprit that caused him to contract the disease.
“I didn’t want to go to the doctor at all; I figured I may have the flu or just was sick and I should let it takes its course and I would be fine. I am so thankful for my friends and family that pushed me to go get checked out,” Smith said. “I was having terrible symptoms and I really began to worry. I can’t recall a time in my life that I had ever felt so bad. Many people urged me to go see a doctor and I just kept putting it off.”
Smith stresses to those who have similar symptoms to go to the doctor and get checked out.
“I am very thankful I went. I should’ve gone earlier, but I was able to get checked out in time. It is very important that if you feel sick and get worse that you get seen by a doctor, you can’t let symptoms like this go and expect to get better. I am very glad I went and who knows what would have happened to me if I didn’t.”
After a second doctor visit last Friday with Dr. Scott Marsteller, Smith was put on another round of antibiotics for three weeks. He may have lasting effects from the disease, but Smith and doctors have high hopes and believe they caught it early enough.
Dixie Meyer, RN at the Rush County Health Department stated that during the past two years in Rush County, there have been no cases reported. According to the County-level Lyme disease data from 2000-2015, the last report for Rush County was a case in 2005.
The Fayette County Health Department hasn’t seen a case since 2015. Before that, there were no cases reported as far back as 2000.
“We have received no recent reports of Lyme Disease,” RN Paula Maupin said. “The most recent report was one case received in November of 2015, just a single case.”
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, these are early signs and symptoms:
• Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes
• Erythema migrans (EM) rash:
– Occurs in approximately 70 to 80 percent of infected persons
– Begins at the site of a tick bite after a delay of 3 to 30 days
– Expands gradually over a period of days reaching up to 12 inches or more across
– May feel warm to the touch but is rarely itchy or painful
– Sometimes clears as it enlarges, resulting in a target or “bull’s-eye” appearance may appear on any area of the body
Later symptoms are:
– Severe headaches and neck stiffness
– Additional EM rashes on other areas of the body
– Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large
– Facial palsy
– Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
– Heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat (Lyme carditis)
– Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
– Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
– Nerve pain
– Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
– Problems with short-term memory
If you experience any of these symptoms, please contact your doctor immediately or go to your local ER.
Being vigilant about ticks and Lyme disease
Summer is quickly approaching, and dogs are itching to be outside where they can run and play. However, there are important things to keep in mind about the threat of ticks and Lyme disease this year, according to an expert in Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, that is transmitted to dogs via the blacklegged (deer) tick and the western blacklegged tick.
Dr. Lori Corriveau, veterinarian in the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine’s Small Animal Community Practice and a diplomat for the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, says there are a few things to know about Lyme disease and how it manifests itself in both dogs and humans.
“After being bitten by a tick that has transmitted the disease, 80 percent of humans will develop a rash and/or flu-like symptoms,” she said. “In the next few weeks, joint pain ensues with a small percentage of people developing neurologic abnormalities associated with Lyme disease and an even smaller percentage of people developing a heart rhythm disturbance referred to as lyme carditis. At this same point in the infection timeline, dogs have yet to develop any symptoms at all.”
Corriveau says that Lyme disease can cause long-term illness in humans, but may never manifest any illness in a dog. However, she still encourages dog owners to be vigilant.
“The dog’s most serious, long-term potential problem with Lyme disease is in regard to glomerular disease,” she says. “This is a type of kidney damage that occurs when the immune system is stimulated over a long time by a latent infectious organism or other immune stimulus. This is a much more insidious problem for which specific testing is needed.”*
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