Researchers in Florida have made a startling Lyme disease discovery, finding a pair of bacteria that previously were unknown to infect humans.
The Lyme disease species, Borrelia americana and Borrelia andersonii, were found in symptomatic patients living in the southeast by University of North Florida researchers, according to this report from WJCT News.
The common lone star tick, formerly believed by many to be incapable of transmitting Lyme disease, was implicated in some of these cases, according to the findings published in the May issue of The International Journal of Medical Sciences. Only one Lyme bacterial species, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, was previously recognized to cause disease in North America. Current testing methods and interpretation criteria, designed to detect just one species, may explain many of the complaints involving the unreliability of Lyme disease tests, according to the report.
Lyme disease can be serious and patients can suffer for years, often struggling with being properly diagnosed.
While ticks are known carriers of the disease, there are other critters in Texas that also can harbor other diseases, including the plague.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever and human ehrlichiosis, also spread by infected ticks, can create a measles-like rash and can be fatal if not treated quickly.
There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself. Wear insect-repellent containing DEET to keep bugs away and wear long-sleeved shirts and pants with the cuffs tucked into your boots. Also, wear light-colored clothes and treat clothing with repellent containing permethrin.
Use common sense and don’t wade through tall grass, especially in the dark, and don’t put any of your limbs in places an animal or insect could hide. Get help if you are bitten by a snake or other creature and go to the hospital as soon as possible. Certainly be aware of signs indicating serious illness.
Plague is common in rodent populations of West Texas and can be transmitted to people by fleas or by direct contact with infected animals such as prairie dogs, squirrels, cats, rats and mice. Without immediate medical attention, plague can be deadly.
Mosquitoes also can be hazardous.
Encephalitis is an infection of the central nervous system caused by one of several mosquito-borne viruses and producing intense headache, high fever, nausea, muscle tenderness, partial or nearly complete unconsciousness and even coma.
If you discover you have become a feast for a tick, be careful. A tick that’s already attached itself needs special attention. Instead of jerking it out, use tweezers to grab the head at the skin and pull firmly until it releases, and treat the bite with an antibiotic.
After you’ve spent time outdoors, be aware that if you start feeling like you’re coming down with the flu, see a doctor. Those symptoms may indicate something more serious.