Lyme is tricky — and fascinating, said Dr. Katherine Murray, of Plymouth.
The spiral-shaped bacteria called spirochetes that cause Lyme multiply in the bloodstream and swim to the joints, bones, heart and cranial nerves, affecting hearing and eyesight and causing “brain fog,” Murray said.
If unchecked, the bacteria roll up in round shapes and form colonies, she said. As they hover together “they pull a sheet over themselves,” known as a biofilm, which makes it harder for antibiotics to get in and do their job, Murray said.
Chronic Lyme patients bemoan dearth of local doctors
Researchers say that Lyme is routinely underreported so the actual number of diagnosed cases is often higher than reported. One additional issue chronic or late-stage Lyme sufferers face is that many physicians who attempt to treat Lyme do not take insurance.
“Usually when you see a Lyme doctor it costs $800 to $1,200 for the first visit plus any testing that needs to be done,” said Lisa Freeman, of Brewster, a nurse and advocate for people with Lyme disease, who runs support groups on the Cape.
Lyme expert Dr. John N. Aucott of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, warns people to watch out for tiny deer tick nymphs that are currently active and to be aware that not all Lyme disease rashes have the shape of a bull’s eye.
It is fallacy in the medical community to believe that the rash that defines Lyme is relegated to the erythema migrans with red rings, Aucott said. He said it is actually more common for Lyme rashes to be solid and said they are often mistaken for spider bites.
“People shouldn’t ignore any round red skin legion,” Aucott said. “It’s June. It’s Cape Cod” and it could be Lyme disease, he said.*
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