Ironic isn’t it? A single elevated PSA value and the medical system goes into a tailspin of immediate treatment and surgery. A tick bite that might cause decades of misery could be ignored “until that bulls eye rash” occurs – even by people who ought to understand the serious consequences.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that may develop after a bite from an infected tick. The Center for Disease Control estimates that more than 300,000 cases of Lyme disease occur annually in the U.S., but only a fraction are reported.
Many people believe it is only one type of tick that carries the disease and that it is only found in certain areas of the country – wooded or forested regions. In truth, the bacteria has been found to be transmitted by more than one carrier – and it isn’t limited to specific geographic areas – and people travel in and out of areas with ticks and can carry infected bugs back home.
Lyme infections can happen almost anyplace – 300,000 or more times each year. What does this mean?
Early Lyme disease occurs within 2-30 days of a bite. Patients can develop an oval-shaped rash at the site of the bite. The classic “bull’s-eye” is seen in 20% of cases. When the rash is absent, flu-like symptoms may be the only clue of the infection and some victims have no symptoms in early disease.
The treatments for virus and bacteria infections are different. Antibiotics, for example, have absolutely no legitimate use in treating a virus, but they can be life saving when the patient has a bacterial infection. Lyme is a bacterial infection. Treating early – or prevention – makes more sense than waiting for certain rare rashes or symptoms.
How early? Everyone who is bitten by a tick doesn’t get Lyme disease. It’s irrational to begin IV or oral antibiotic treatment “just in case”. The net return on astronomical treatment costs would be miniscule.
Could there be an alternative to expensive antibiotic treatments? What if there was a way to treat every potential infected tick bite with a small dose of topical antibiotic, applied to the site of the bite that would halt the bacteria before it gets established in its new human home? What if it cost only $100.00 and helped reduce the incidence of Lyme in two weeks and without serious side effects?
Who would benefit? Well, for one, the thousands of people who get bitten might not get the disease – their infections would be stopped before Lyme started to establish itself. As Lyme bugs have been associated with numerous chronic inflammatory conditions, the community might see fewer debilitating conditions, such as Multiple Sclerosis, Arthritis, and Psoriasis.
Who might not benefit if Lyme was prevented instead of treated? Perhaps programs that treat Lyme for the long haul – years (sometimes for life) would see a decline in their census and revenue, which often trump cures and improved health.
Prevention would cause many people to benefit from NOT getting sick (http://aac.asm.org/content/58/1/348.full).
Some research supports this idea. A small sample of tick bites were treated with topical antibiotic. A researcher stated “None of the test subjects went on to develop Lyme …”.
While not a conclusive experiment, it suggests that applying a safe dose of an antibiotic could effectively prevent disease. Sadly, personal health and welfare pale in comparison to the profits lost from aggressive long-term treatments.