The World Health Organization defines “Health education as any combination of learning experiences designed to help individuals and communities improve their health, by increasing their knowledge or influencing their attitudes” (WHO, 2012, p. 2). The best weapon in preventing a disease outbreak is community action and education. Articles are published to provide valuable information regarding past and present disease trends. The following paper summarizes three articles regarding the prevalence of Lyme disease, its effect on the people, and the community health response.
Lyme Disease & History
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection carried by black-legged ticks, commonly referred to as deer ticks. At any stage in their lives the deer ticks will latch onto and feed from a human and therefore transmit the disease to their host. Some symptoms are often unnoticed or ignored, but if diagnosed early it is easily cured. Lyme disease was first noted as a “dermatologic lesion in humans in the late 1800s in a Scandinavian medical journal. The Lyme arthritis outbreak in Old Lyme, Connecticut that put Lyme disease on the cover of Time Magazine occurred in 1975. The first cases of canine Lyme were recognized in the 1980s” (Piesman, 2012, 30).
“More cases of Lyme disease are reported than any other vector-borne disease in the United States. There were 29,959 confirmed cases and 8509 probable cases of Lyme disease in the United States in 2009” (CDC, 2012, p. 1) Once Lyme disease was primarily diagnosed around the Mid-Atlantic and New England states; however, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is concerned, because it is now “endemic (prevalent) in the Northeast and much of the North Central United States including Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Pennsylvania” (Smith, 2011, p. 1).
Research on Lyme disease has been initiated by local and state governments or provided for by funding from the U.S. Department of Public Health and Human Services (HHS). The research includes aspects of the potential control of the spread of the disease including prevention, detection, treatment, and vaccine development. Even though a plethora of research exists, the community is slow to adopt many of the safe practices on a macro scale. Home owners are reluctant to spend personal income on tick abatement products even in highly endemic areas.
These articles relate to the growing concern for the endemic levels of the occurrence of Lyme disease and the community response. Although treatable the best course of action is to influence the attitudes of the community by developing a partnership between the community and public health initiatives. The CDC hopes through community health education and the adoption of preventative measures the prevalence of Lyme disease will be significantly reduced.
CDC. (2012). It’s spring: Time to prevent Lyme disease. Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control (CDC): http://www.cdc.gov/Features/LymeDisease/. Piesman, J. (2012). Prevention of tick-borne diseases. Journal Of Environmental Health, 74(10), 30. Smith, P. (2011). Lyme disease appears on the rise. Retrieved from The Seattle Times: Health Section: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/health/2014752683_lyme14.html. World Health Organization. (2011). Retrieved April 24, 2011, from Health Education: http://www.who.int/topics/health_education/en/. Content