July 06, 2008

Lyme Disease originated in Europe

This may seem an unusual post for quench, but as some of you already know, I am disabled because of two severe bouts of Lyme Disease, which is currently ravaging the northeast. The epicentre of the outbreak is Lyme CT, about 30 miles from my parents' home, and nearly every one I know from home and nearly every friend, acquaintance and coworker of my parents have suffered this potentially debilitating disease. My mother told me today of three more people she knows who have Bell's Palsy, a temporary total paralysis of one side of the face that is accompanied by bodily weakness and is often cause for temporary disability of a month caused by Lyme. Long-term (non-reparable) nerve damage is also common: it leads to depression, severe anxiety disorders (such as I have), bodily weakness and paralysis and bone and joint degeneration. Severely increased suicide rates are directly attributable to Lyme infection.

So it was with great interest that I read about Lyme in ScienceDaily...

The bacterium responsible for Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, originated in America, or so researchers thought. Now, however, a team from the University of Bath has shown that this bug in fact came from Europe, originating from before the Ice Age.

[snip]There is no vaccine for the infection, which can cause arthritis and problems with the nervous system and heart if left untreated.

Wellcome Trust. "Lyme Disease Bacterium Came From Europe Before Ice Age." ScienceDaily 30 June 2008. Retrieved 6 July 2008 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080629142805.htm

The article is very short, but also notes that it has been present in the New World for "a long time"... I'll be following this for sure.


icarus said...

i just got a tick on me today (not dangerous, luckily). do you have preventive-health suggestions for readers who might live in tick-prone areas (other than checking for ticks after they've been outside)?

emily0 said...

If you live in areas where Lyme-carrying ticks live, use repellent, avoid thick grass and foliage, watch for ticks - and watch out.

Watch out means check your body for target-patterned rashes and for illnesses. If you have an illness soon after potential exposure, like the flu, be sure to ALERT YOUR PHYSICIAN that you might have been exposed to Lyme.