Lyme disease: Focus on a shadowy ailment

Lyme is the most common of all the diseases in the United States transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks and fleas, with approximately 20,000 cases reported each year nationally. New York has the second-highest rate of Lyme in the United States, with nearly 6,000 cases reported in 2009. Public health officials say the number of undiagnosed cases is probably higher than that.

Excerpted from  the TimesUnion.com  ( Posted: 05/12/2011 ) 

Last summer, 3-year-old Colin McMahon started acting strange. He couldn’t focus, he swiped his hands over his face nonstop, and he became anxious — to the point where he wouldn’t go into a room by himself.

Colin’s parents finally figured out what was wrong: The boy had Lyme disease.

Lyme is the most common of all the diseases in the United States transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks and fleas, with approximately 20,000 cases reported each year nationally. New York has the second-highest rate of Lyme in the United States, with nearly 6,000 cases reported in 2009. Public health officials say the number of undiagnosed cases is probably higher than that.

Most illness occurs in June, July and August, when the infected ticks are most active. Bartholomew Forlano, a veterinarian at the Glenville Veterinary Clinic, said this year’s cool, wet spring is the perfect climate for ticks, and he is seeing many of the critters in his practice.

The incidence of Lyme among humans is highest in two age groups: adults between 55 and 69 and children between 5 and 14, particularly boys.

“He was so young, and I thought he was going through a phase,” said Darlene McMahon, Colin’s mother, who lives near Plattsburgh.

Lyme symptoms come in many forms and are hard to pin down in children, said Dr. Kari Bovenzi, an Albany pediatrician who treats many kids with the ailment.

Children have trouble explaining their symptoms and don’t have a reference point for what is normal, Bovenzi said. The tick itself is rarely seen and the bull’s-eye rash associated with Lyme only appears in 7 percent of cases, she said. On top of that, tests for Lyme are unreliable.

For the complete article:  http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Lyme-disease-Focus-on-a-shadowy-ailment-1376595.php#ixzz1MEGPEGQ0

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~ by Rob on May 13, 2011.

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