Lyme Disease or is it?


How do I know it’s summer in New York? Is it the smothering heat that encases me as I walk the streets of Manhattan as though I am wearing my mother’s mink coat?


Maybe it’s the days that seem to linger endlessly almost to the point where the sun sets just before Conan O’Brien’s show begins?

No. Not that either.

I know summer is in full throttle when patient, after patient, after patient comes into my office hyperventilating in fear that they have contracted Lyme Disease.


Transmitted through deer tick, and caused by three species of the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato. B. burgdorferi is the sole cause of the disease in the United States especially in areas where there are deers, like Fire Island. Yes, those mangy deer that inhabit Fire Island bear more than those sweet brown eyes. They are just teaming with ticks, chock full of B. burgdorferi.


The clinical manifestations of Lyme disease can generally be divided into three phases:

target lesion

  • Stage 1: Early localized disease is characterized by the appearance of the characteristic skin lesion, erythema migrans, with its distinctive target lesion, which usually occurs within one month following the tick bite.
  • Stage 2: Early disseminated disease is characterized by multiple erythema migrans lesions and/or neurologic and/or cardiac findings (that typically occur weeks to months after infection).
  • Stage 3: Late Lyme disease is typically associated with arthritis involving one or a few large joints, especially the knee; and neurologic problems. Late Lyme disease may develop months to a few years after the initial infection. Arthritis may be the presenting manifestation of the disease.

So if you plucked a tick off your body there really is no reason to get tested for Lyme disease because the results will invariably be negative. You should still contact your doctor.

Not to make matters worse, but you know I love to instigate a hypocondriac; here’s another fun fact: Babesiosis is an infectious disease caused by protozoa of the genus Babesia and transmitted through, yes you guessed it, ticks. Symptoms  develop one to six weeks after the tick bite. Patients typically experience gradual onset of fatigue, malaise, and weakness. Fever accompanied by: chills, sweats, headache, body aches, muscle aches and no appetite. Less common symptoms include neck stiffness, sore throat, dry cough, shortness of breath, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dark urine.

So go ahead. Enjoy your summer share. Next year get a full share, and while you’r at it go play in traffic or juggle knives. I don’t care. I’ll be sitting here in my nice, air conditioned, deer tick free office… waiting for you.

And if anyone happens to have a spare weekend available on the Island, Chad and I would love to join you. I’ll even make lasagna.


One Comment

  1. Gareth Blayney
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    You look like a knob.

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