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September 7, 2017

This is a Public Awareness Announcement form the Arkansas Lyme Foundation

 

The Arkansas Lyme Foundation reports that another tick collected from Arkansas has tested positive for Lyme disease.  There were three ticks collected from central Arkansas (Pulaski, Saline and Perry County) over Mother’s Day weekend and two of the three ticks tested positive for Tick Borne Illnesses.  

The ticks were tested by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation through the Nieto Lab at Northern Arizona University.  The Nieto lab’s uses highly accurate qPCR DNA based tests following column based extractions that are very specific and sensitive for most tick-borne illnesses, including Lyme Disease.  One tick tested positive for Lyme Disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) and one tested positive for Relapsing fever (Borrelia miyamotoi).  The third tick tested negative.

 

Taking into consideration the fact that 2 out of 3 ticks tested positive, it calls into question many of the current beliefs about the prevalence of tick-borne illnesses and specially Lyme disease in Arkansas. The fact that the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has only reported two patients (in ten years) as "probable" possible cases for Lyme disease is a little hard to believe. The truth is, the ADH's reporting standards are highly questionable.

 

In 2015 and part of 2016, the ADH reviewed over 900 Lyme positive tests. Some of these files were repeats so the final number of Lyme positive labs to review became 582. The ADH determined that 287 did not have enough clinical information to determine a positive confirmation in their opinion.   282 they claimed were falsely positive and not cases (again based on their opinion).  Eleven were considered probable and two were confirmed, but they later decided to only consider those probable cases (and they claim the patients were bitten out of state.)

 

Why is there such a discrepancy and what are the legal ramifications if a state health department refuses to acknowledge a disease that is the largest vector borne disease in the nation? Why must Arkansans who have chronic symptoms of Lyme seek help from doctors over the state line? Isn't the ADH’s job to solely protect the health of Arkansans? Shouldn't Lyme literate doctors be able to practice in Arkansans without feeling like their medical license is at stake. These are the questions that many citizens and patient advocacy groups are asking in Arkansas.

 

On the ADH website it explains that due to Arkansas being categorized as a low-incidence state, healthcare professionals should consider other diagnoses first over Lyme disease.  It goes on to list other similar problems such as: viral infections, STARI, fibromyalgia, or arthritis. The problem is, Lyme disease symptoms can mimic many of these other common problems like viral infections, STARI, fibromyalgia, and arthritis.

 

The key thing to remember is: be proactive. The saying goes, " An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" and with tick-borne illnesses this couldn't be more true. Wear protective clothing & bug spray when outside, and if you do get bitten, don't procrastinate. Take the following steps immediately:

1. Remove the ticks properly. 

2. Put the ticks in a sealed baggie and dated it.

3. Photograph the bites or following rashes, especially ones that just didn't seem right. 

4. Take just a few minutes to copy & fill out the tick testing form at the Bay Area Lyme Foundation and send the ticks in the mail to be tested. 

 

These four simple steps could give you the vital information that could save your livelihood.

 

References:

• http://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programsServices/infectiousDisease/zoonoticDisease/TickborneDisease/Pages/LymeDisease.aspx

•  ADH response to Lyme Disease in Arkansas: https://vimeopro.com/healthyarkansas/20170525

 

• *The Bay Area Lyme Foundation is a free tick testing organization. They just revised their website to increase the speed of processing results. Their website is http://www.ticktesting.org/ and results can be expected in 7-10 business days. In this instance, a 49-cent stamp is worth its weight in gold.