“Got Lyme?” reads the staff shirts at a popular Martha’s Vineyard Mexican restaurant, a reference to not only the island’s best margaritas but also to the proliferation of Lyme Disease-infested ticks which reside in the beautiful woods there. As an annual summer visitor, the shirts always bothered me. Now they bother me more, now that Lyme disease has affected one of my closest family members. That person’s to close to me to name in print, but he was just along for the ride on a seemingly benign wine-tasting trip we took to Paso Robles last April.
I’m not alone in my recent induction into the Lyme community. Lyme disease is the fastest growing vector-borne disease in the United States. Lyme is a scary entity; it often comes accompanied by vicious and difficult-to-detect co-infections that resemble malaria, i.e. babesia. It mimics many other conditions and is hard to diagnose. Its connection to autism is currently being researched. According to some estimates, some 35 percent of persons with autism also have Lyme. Simply put, there is no standard protocol for how to treat it. Atlanta’s Centers for Disease Control “Lyme literate” medical communities remain at great odds on this issue.
On this May, Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and from here forward I encourage you to take the time to check for ticks when you’ve been outdoors. And most importantly, check your children. Children are the population most susceptible to Lyme. Be aware, unlike our former doctor, that Lyme disease is present in this paradise of Orange County, and familiarize yourself with its symptoms. Symptoms of initial onset go beyond the well-known bull’s eye rash, which never materialized for our family member. They can include high fever, joint pain, fatigue, flu-like illness, and Bell’s palsy.
Got Lyme . . . information? Arm yourself. This season is predicted to be the worst in recent history for new cases of Lyme Disease. Visit a reputable site such as lymedisease.org for facts, symptoms, and how you can help.
Karyn Borella is married to the executive director of the Laguna Canyon Foundation.