Contact: John Broom
Ashtabula County Medical Center Caregivers always try to keep smiles on their faces. Friday, those smiles turned to puckers, but for a very special cause.
ACMC Healthcare System administrators and others joined with State Representative John Patterson to take the Lyme Disease Challenge.
The tart-tasting challenge is part of a global effort to bring awareness about Lyme disease.
Ashtabula County has seen a rising number of Lyme disease cases reported in the past few years. This has spurred Patterson to urge the state to change testing requirements and provide funding for laboratory testing services.
Lyme disease is spread through deer ticks, which transmit the disease to dogs and humans. Initial symptoms may go away after a few days, but can recur months or years later with worsening severity.
Early symptoms may include a bullseye rash which can last a month or more. Patients may not experience such a rash, but other symptoms are similar to those of the flu – chills, fever, headache, joint pain, muscle pain. Additional symptoms may occur weeks to months after the initial tick bite. These may include numbness or nerve pain, muscle weakness, chest pain, shortness of breath or irregular heartbeat. Recurring problems months or years later can include speech problems or thinking (cognitive) problems. If left untreated, Lyme disease can spread to the brain, heart, and joints.
"ACMC is committed to being a proactive regarding community health and prevention," Habowski said. "The Lyme challenge is a fun, but sour, way to focus attention on the risk of Lyme disease. We hope that as more people learn about it, they will seek diagnosis and treatment early enough to minimize the effects of the disease."
ACMC Infectious Disease Physician Olusegun Ogunlesi, MD, said if diagnosed in the early stages, Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, symptoms can persist and interfere with a person’s normal quality of life.
"This disease mimics several other diseases, such as the flu or meningitis," he said. "We are especially concerned about children contracting the disease."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also determined Lyme disease can mimic diseases such as ALS, MS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Alzheimer's Parkinson's, and autism.
State Representative Patterson said it is important to let residents of Ashtabula County know the local risk for Lyme disease.
"I fully support this opportunity to raise awareness and promote detection with respect to Lyme disease. The great outdoors means so much to the life and vitality for all of us who live in the 99th District. We must, however, remain vigilant with respect to ticks and the presence of Lyme disease in our midst," he said.
For tips on finding and removing ticks from your body, and more information about Lyme disease, click here.