Vermont has one of the highest rates of Lyme disease in the U.S.
Lyme disease is caused by an infection with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, spread to humans by black-legged “deer” ticks.
When Lyme disease is accurately diagnosed and properly treated patients often recover completely. However, some individuals experience long-term, debilitating effects, even after completing standard treatment.
Some people who are sick with Lyme disease may have “co-infections” According to the Vermont Department of Health, Bartonella, Babesia, Anaplasmosis, Powassan virus, Erlichiosis, and other tick-borne pathogens have been found in Vermont. While “Lyme disease” usually refers specifically to an infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, the term is sometimes used to describe a tick-borne illness involving multiple pathogens.
Lyme disease can affect the skin, heart, nervous system and joints. It can appear in unique ways and mimic other diseases or disorders including heart conditions, Anxiety or Bi-polar disorders, Multiple sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Depression, and more.
When Lyme symptoms do not resolve after treatment it can be called “Chronic Lyme.” There is controversy about whether these ongoing symptoms represent a chronic infection, or an ongoing immune response. The CDC refers to this condition as “Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome” (PTLDS).
In 2013 Vermont was #1 in the U.S. for per-capita Lyme infections and the rate of infections is increasing.
What You Should Know
Tests for Lyme disease may not be accurate
Because of the way Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) act within the body, antibodies may not always be present in the bloodstream. Some people with late-stage, disseminated Lyme disease will test negative. Testing an infected person too early can produce a negative result, and false positives also occur. Accurate testing for co-infections is not always available.
Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis
According to the CDC, a diagnosis of Lyme disease should be based on symptoms. A negative blood test for Lyme disease does not necessarily mean you are free from infection. If you have signs and symptoms of Lyme disease you may be infected, even if a blood test is negative.
Not Everyone Gets a “Bulls-Eye” Rash
Estimates from the CDC show one in four people who have Lyme disease do not see a rash. In a 2014 survey of confirmed Lyme cases in Vermont, a rash occurred in only 50-70% of Lyme infections. The absence of a rash does not mean you do not have Lyme disease.