YEAR IN REVIEW: Worst summer yet for Lyme disease?
Excerpted from MEDPage: (12/27/2012)
Our Year in Review series highlights the major medical news stories of 2012. One story that has continued to evolve this year has been the natural history of Lyme disease and how ecological influences can predict its incidence and spread. Here is the original article, published on June 18. In a companion article, you’ll find out what has happened since.
The summer of 2012 may turn out to be the worst year ever for Lyme disease in the northeastern U.S. because of recent shifts in the acorn and white-footed mouse populations, even as researchers are making advances in the understanding and treatment of refractory cases.
Lyme disease results from the bite of a tick infected with the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. It typically manifests at first with the expanding rash known as erythema migrans. Many patients then develop a severe flu-like illness, with muscle aches, fever, chills, and lethargy.
Some infected individuals go on to develop intermittent arthritis, usually of the large joints, that can require extensive antibiotic treatment. And in an unfortunate few, even after 3 months of oral and intravenous antibiotics, the arthritis can persist for years.
It’s a complex ecological, molecular, and immunological story.