Friday, August 10, 2007

Bush tick

Last year around this time, President Bush got Lyme Disease after developing a tell-tale circular rash. The infection, delivered by a deer tick to his left shin, disappeared after antibiotic treatment.

Named after a sleepy but deer-infested town in Connecticut, Lyme Disease is often misdiagnosed and therefore often mistreated: One JAMA study found that 57% of patients originally diagnosed with Lyme Disease never had it.

Concerned about getting Lyme Disease in the US? Although cases have been reported in all 50 states, most occur in the Northeast, upper Midwest, or Northwest. And even if a tick discovers you, all is not lost: it has to bite and stay in place for 24 to 48 hours before you’ll get infected.

Here are the numbers: one percent of deer ticks are infected with the Lyme Disease bacteria, and just over 21,000 - less than one-hundredth of one percent - of Americans are diagnosed each year. Don’t have a bulls-eye rash but have Lyme Disease symptoms of fever, headache, body ache, fatigue, muscle pain, and swelling of the knees? You might be one of four people who don’t present with rash but still have the disease. Or you might have been bitten by another one of the 82 species of ticks in the U.S. that account for nine major diseases. Ouch!

President Bush didn’t disclose the disease at the time because he didn’t believe that it affected his performance. But maybe now we have an explanation for those low poll numbers he’s had for the last year!

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