Hi! My name is Sammi Rice, and I am a senior from Columbus, Georgia! Before I begin explaining what Lyme Disease is and why we must find better treatment for this disease, I thought I would share what brought me to this topic.
When I was a child, I loved to take my dogs on walks around my neighborhood. Many times, my parents and I would find tics on my dogs, and we would immediately take them off, make sure they were dead, and flush them down the drain. I always brushed these encounters off, not knowing how much harm these tics could do to both my pets and my family. It was not until lower school when my godmother and godsister found tics on their backs that I saw just how severe and unique an illness that these small insects could cause. Treatment is so limited, especially in the south, so they had to travel all the way to Washington DC. The specialist was completely booked for months, so by the time they were able to see her for a checkup, many coinfections had developed, and their Lyme Disease became much more dangerous.
After choosing this topic and beginning the start of this project, my dad found a tic on the back of his leg, one that had been there for over a week before he found it. Last week, he went to the doctor and tested positive for Lyme Disease. He began taking medication and receiving treatments this week.
I would like to speak on this disease today to raise awareness for Lymes and share my families stories of the disease so that treatments will become easier to access, and nobody will have to wait months before receiving treatment as my family did.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme Disease is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii in the United States. It is transmitted to humans by a bite of a black-legged or deer tick. Not every single one of these tics carries the disease. It is diagnosed based on the common symptoms, physical findings of a tic or rash, or the possibility of exposure to ticks.
The early symptoms include….. fever, headache, fatigue, skin rashes, body aches, joint stiffness and pain, and swollen lymph nodes.
The more severe symptoms include….. neurological problems, skin rashes, swollen and painful joints, inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain, temporary paralysis of one side of the face, and impaired muscle movement.
After weeks without being treated, the following symptoms can occur: eye and liver inflammation, severe fatigue, and heart problems.
Cases that are caught early enough can be successfully treated with antibiotics. The antibiotics that can be administered are doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil.
Long term cases do not have a set treatment, and doctors are still conducting research on the most effective way to treat the disease when it is not caught early.
that all tics carry Lyme Disease,
that it can be sexually transmitted,
that it induces autism in children,
that every infected person experiences the same symptoms,
that it cannot effect brain or personality in any way
Case study (with my dad)
How did you find out you had Lyme Disease?
“I found a tic on the back of my leg about two weeks ago. I know that the only time I was exposed was about a week and a half before I found it. It was still alive when I removed it and it has left a large scar not only wear it bit me. It spread throughout the entire back of my leg. I knew that there was a high chance of getting Lymes Disease because of where we live, and since the tic had been on me for so long, I knew I would need to check quick. Luckily I was able to get medicine the next day and the doctors think we were able to treat it early enough.”
What do you think people can do to raise awareness for this disease?
“People can definitely put in more effort to learn about Lymes. It is very easy to get, and it can happen to anyone. It is not a disease that you are born with, or one that can be transmitted. There are many organizations that are raising money for treatment research, and they host many fundraisers around the US.”
Do you believe that the treatments are easily accessible and effective?
“In Wendy’s situation, she was only able to get treatments in Washington 6 months after she found the tic. Treatments are still being created and tested as we speak, so they are definitely not effective. This disease is in dire need of more attention and awareness, and I think that we need more doctors to specialize in its field.”
“Lyme Disease | Lyme Disease | CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html.
“Lyme Disease.” ALDF, www.aldf.com/lyme-disease/#misinformation.
“Lyme Disease.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 5 Dec. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lyme-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20374651.