Environmental Issue & Sick Building Syndrome Blog

Announcing Tick Hunting Season

This particular “Tick Hunting Season” announcement is probably not going to go the way you first thought. The reality is that ticks are doing the hunting for humans and their pets to burrow into the nice, warm victim bodies. We don’t hunt them, they hunt us.

 

The CDC estimates there are more than 300,000 cases of Lyme infection in the U.S. each year – which is roughly 10 times as many as what is reported. That group of undiagnosed Lyme Disease victims can suffer for years with the disease. You or someone you care about could be one of those victims

There have been countless news stories explaining that the weather this year has been great for the tick population.  It’s no wonder that readers and viewers care about ticks. A human taking a pleasant walk in the woods or petting of a dog is all that a bloodsucking tick needs to spread disease and misery.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Early signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease include chills, headache, muscle and joint pain, fever and swollen lymph nodes. The sneaky part is that these symptoms can be mistaken as flu symptoms.

When Lyme Disease goes undiagnosed and untreated, the symptoms can progress. They can be debilitating. Each of the symptoms can also be indicative of other diseases and health problems. This is another reason that Lyme Disease can be misdiagnosed for years.

Some of Chronic Lyme Disease symptoms are:

  • Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
  • Headaches and neck stiffness
  • Arthritis type of joint pain
  • Muscle and heart symptoms
  • Rashes

Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)

CIRS happens in response to repeated exposure to toxins. This causes the immune system to go haywire. CIRS can be triggered by the combination of mycotoxins, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other inflammatory toxins found in water-damaged environments. Lyme Disease is often one of the exposures that underlies CIRS

The Role of Mold and Other Toxins in Lyme Disease and CIRS

Only some individuals are at risk for reacting to Lyme Disease or any mold and biotoxin related diseases.

Genetic factors, individual health histories, weakened immune systems, viral, parasitic, bacterial, or other co-infections play a role in CIRS. Auto-immune diseases and exposure to mold and toxic VOCs can also be triggers to those diseases. This is complicated. 


Posted by Dan Howard on July 14th, 2018 10:41 PM

This particular “Tick Hunting Season” announcement is probably not going to go the way you first thought. The reality is that ticks are doing the hunting for humans and their pets to burrow into the nice, warm victim bodies. We don’t hunt them.  

 

PICTURE OF A TICK NEST IN A DOGS EAR 

There have been countless news stories explaining that the weather this year has been great for the tick population.  It’s no wonder that readers and viewers care about ticks. A human taking a pleasant walk in the woods or petting of a dog is all that a bloodsucking tick needs to spread disease and misery.


The CDC estimates there are more than 300,000 cases of Lyme infection in the U.S. each year – which is roughly 10 times as many as what is reported. That group of undiagnosed Lyme Disease victims can suffer for years with the disease. You or someone you care about could be one of those victims

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Early signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease include chills, headache, muscle and joint pain, fever and swollen lymph nodes. The sneaky part is that these symptoms can be mistaken as flu symptoms.

When Lyme Disease goes undiagnosed and untreated, the symptoms can progress. They can be debilitating. Each of the symptoms can also be indicative of other diseases and health problems. This is another reason that Lyme Disease can be misdiagnosed for years.

Some of Chronic Lyme Disease symptoms are:

  • Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
  • Headaches and neck stiffness
  • Arthritis type of joint pain
  • Muscle and heart symptoms
  • Rashes
Posted in:Lyme Disease & CIRS and tagged: LymeCIRSticks
Posted by Dan Howard on June 26th, 2018 9:06 PM

Prevent Lyme Disease

Family of four outdoors

Before gardening, camping, hiking, or just playing outdoors, make preventing tick bites part of your plans.

Lyme disease is spread by the bite of an infected tick. In the United States, an estimated 300,000 infections occur each year. If you camp, hike, work, or play in wooded or grassy places, you could be bitten by an infected tick.

People living in or visiting New England, the mid-Atlantic states, and the upper Midwest are at greatest risk. Infected ticks can also be found in neighboring states and in some areas of Northern California, Oregon and Washington. But you and your family can prevent tick bites and reduce your risk of Lyme disease.

Protect Yourself from Tick Bites

Know where to expect ticks. Blacklegged ticks (the ticks that cause Lyme disease) live in moist and humid environments, particularly in and near wooded or grassy areas. You may get a tick on you during outdoor activities around your home or when walking through leaves and bushes. To avoid ticks, walk in the center of trails and avoid walking through tall bushes or other vegetation.

Map: Report cases of Lyme Diseasae, United States 2009

Though Lyme disease cases have been reported in nearly every state, cases are reported from the infected person’s county of residence, not the place where they were infected. More Lyme disease data >

Repel ticks on skin and clothing. Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone. EPA’s helpful search tool can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth. Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective longer.

Perform Daily Tick Checks

Check your body for ticks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Search your entire body for ticks when you return from an area that may have ticks. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any tick you find. Take special care to check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:

Graphic: Tick sizes
  • Under the arms
  • In and around the ears
  • Inside the belly button
  • Back of the knees
  • In and around all head and body hair
  • Between the legs
  • Around the waist

Check your clothing and pets for ticks because they may carry ticks into the house. Check clothes and pets carefully and remove any ticks that are found. Place clothes into a dryer on high heat to kill ticks.

Remove Attached Ticks Quickly and Correctly

Photo of Sign: Prevent lyme disease tips

Remove an attached tick with fine-tipped tweezers as soon as you notice it. If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely small; however, other diseases may be transmitted more quickly.

Over the next few weeks, watch for signs or symptoms of Lyme disease such as rash or fever. See a healthcare provider if you have signs or symptoms. For more information, see tick removal.

Be Alert for Fever or Rash

Even if you don’t remember being bitten by a tick, an unexpected summer fever or odd rash may be the first signs of Lyme disease, particularly if you’ve been in tick habitat. See your healthcare provider if you have symptoms.

Prevent Ticks on Animals

Prevent family pets from bringing ticks into the home by limiting their access to tick-infested areas and by using veterinarian-prescribed tick prevention products on your dog.

Create Tick-safe Zones in Your Yard

Modify your landscaping to create “Tick-Safe Zones.” It’s pretty simple. Keep patios, play areas, and playground equipment away from shrubs, bushes, and other vegetation. Regularly remove leaves, clear tall grasses and brush around your home, and place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to keep ticks away from recreational areas (and away from you).

  • Use a chemical control agent. Use acaricides (tick pesticides) to reduce the number of ticks in treated areas of your yard.  However, you should not rely on spraying to reduce your risk of infection.
  • Discourage deer. Deer are the main food source of adult ticks. Keep deer away from your home by removing plants that attract deer and by constructing barriers (like a fence) to discourage deer from entering your yard and bringing ticks with them. ?
Posted in:mold, lyme, and tagged: MolddiseaseLymeCIRS
Posted by Dan Howard on May 4th, 2018 9:35 PM
Leonard Sigal, MD, clinical professor and former chief of the Division of Rheumatology at Robert Wood Johnson UMDNJ Medical School, explains his approach for treating Lyme disease patients with persistent symptoms.


“There are many potential explanations for why somebody has ongoing complaints after what should have been adequate antibiotic therapy. First of all, it’s possible that the patient didn’t take the antibiotics. You give them 2 weeks of doxycycline and they got 5 days [but now it’s] sitting in the medicine cabinet because they feel so much better. Why bother, right? [The thought is] so they’ll have the antibiotics for next time that they get bitten by a tick. This is not the way that we practice medicine. And so, it’s possible that they didn’t take the antibiotic.

It’s also possible that the antibiotic was not absorbed. There are some people for whom the diarrhea and abdominal pain from doxycycline are so great—and the same thing is true sometimes of amoxicillin—that they just flush it right through their system and it never really gets absorbed. There are other people for whom it’s not diarrhea, it’s just that they don’t absorb it; it’s possible.

There are people who had more advanced disease than you identified at the time you saw them. Let’s say that you see somebody with erythema migrans—the rash of Lyme disease—you give them oral antibiotics because it turns out that they already had meningitis; it was subclinical, you didn’t see it, you didn’t appreciate it. They come in 3 weeks later for a follow-up and they say, ‘My neck is so stiff and I’m feeling so weak.’ We can do a spinal tap if there are cells; you can also find antibodies against the organism, but if you find a lot of inflammatory cells, this is meningitis. This requires intravenous (IV) therapy, not oral therapy. And so, I didn’t give the appropriate therapy the first time through, not because of my incompetence, but because it was subclinical.

Assuming that you have given appropriate antibiotics and they were absorbed, some people will have persistence of organisms—presumably. That’s very ill-defined, as of now. But it is possible that there is a persistence of organisms. All of the organisms that have ever been identified, all the Borrelia burgdorferi, are sensitive to the antibiotics that we use; it’s not as though there’s a resistant strain out there. But it’s possible that it was in a cell someplace and the cell broke open and now, you’ve got the organism multiplying again. And so, in some sort of a privileged site, it’s possible—unproven, but possible.

The second potential explanation is debris, dead organisms lying there in a joint, as an example, and it’s a focus of ongoing inflammation because your macrophages are trying desperately to get rid of this residual stuff and it’s very indigestible. And so, there’s ongoing inflammation; that’s ongoing symptoms, despite. It’s possible that you might have debris elsewhere in the body and have inflammation and inflammation is causing your symptoms—global inflammation, systemic inflammation.

It’s possible that what’s going on in the patient is immune in mechanism, that somehow the infection has caused an immune response, not necessarily autoimmune, but an immune response, an ongoing inflammation, and so, it just can’t be tamped down. It could be autoimmune; I must tell you that Alan Steere looked at autoimmunity due to B. burgdorferi outer-surface protein (OspA), or centered on OspA. I think that has been demonstrated to not be of any clinical relevance.

My laboratory, when I was at Robert Wood Johnson, looked at neurologic disease. We found cross-reactivity between a Borrelia burgdorferi antigen and a human antigen. The possibility of autoimmunity was raised. We demonstrated it in the laboratory; I don’t know that we have ever seen that be of clinical relevance, but it’s possible. There’s no evidence to suggest that it happens, but it’s possible. Ongoing immunity, autoimmunity, maybe.

The final explanation is that the patient once had Lyme disease but something else is going on now. As I said before, Alan Steere has shown that there are people who have chronic inflammatory diseases that have nothing to do with Lyme disease, that follow Lyme disease. Life does not come to a screeching halt medically when you eradicate Borrelia burgdorferi; other things can happen. Are they causative? Is it that the B. burgdorferi caused rheumatoid arthritis? There’s no reason to believe that’s the case, but it happened.

And so, it’s very important that you not assume. Remember the old expression, ‘When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me?’ It’s very important that you not assume that something that happens after Lyme disease, is, therefore, due to the preceding Lyme disease. You have to have an open mind about this. What you need to do is approach the patient, with the Lyme disease in the background, but look for other potential explanations. Does this lady have Lupus? Does this lady have rheumatoid arthritis? Does this lady have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis? And then, there’s always the very real question: Was the initial diagnosis of Lyme disease correct? Very frequently, in a referral practice, you’ll see somebody come in with a diagnosis of Lyme disease that I can’t substantiate; I don’t know how that diagnosis was made. When I start digging through the records, there’s [nothing there to indicate it]. And so, it’s very important that you be sure that there’s really a Lyme disease diagnosis that is supportable in the first place. But even if there was, look for other things to make sure that you don’t miss something. Because the diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease is almost a diagnosis of exclusion, and a diagnosis of exclusion is a very difficult thing to do because it means that you’ve excluded everything else? Not the easiest of practicing medicine.”

What Is "Lyme Anxiety?"

“Lyme anxiety: the anxiety related to Lyme disease, usually related to the diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease. So, somebody walks into the office with erythema migrans, who’s done a little bit of research, and says, ‘That. That’s Lyme disease, isn’t it?’ And I say, ‘Yep. We’re going to give you some antibiotics and you’re going to get better.’ And the overwhelming majority of people in that setting do get better.

It’s the person who walks in with vague complaints, no physical findings, nothing that I can say, ‘That’s what it is.’ It’s a vague constellation of complaints. Those people, somebody has told that that it’s Lyme disease; it might have been at the grocery checkout; they might have been looking at something on the internet; they might have been going to a physician who claims that it’s chronic Lyme disease. And then they would wind up coming to me at the referral center that I used to run at Robert Wood Johnson.

And they’re scared out of their minds because they think ‘I’ve had this disease for who knows how long. Look what it’s doing to me. I’m not going to be around to watch my children grow up.’ People’s anxiety runs wild. Should you be concerned if you have Lyme disease? Sure. Is there reason to be afraid of it? A little bit, sure. But to approach hysteria is in nobody’s best interest and it’s really unnecessary. And it’s really one of the really toxic consequences of this ongoing debate about chronic Lyme disease.”

Posted by Dan Howard on April 20th, 2018 6:32 PM

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