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Epidemiology of Lyme Disease Essay

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Burgdorfer, the spirochetes were named Borrelia burgdorferi (Where did Lyme Disease Come From? Is it New? , 2009). Further investigation would lead scientists to name blacklegged ticks as the source of B. burgdorferi transmittal. Scientists would also find that antibiotics were successful in treating Lyme disease and that lab tests could be used to determine human infection (Preece, 2008). Healthy People 2010 The government project, Healthy People 2010, is designed to help Americans achieve healthier lives by the year 2010. There are 467 objectives listed in the project.

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The 14th heading in this document, Immunizations and Infectious Diseases, has a subclass heading entitled Diseases Preventable Through Targeted Vaccination. The goal of this objective is to have a 44% decline in cases of Lyme disease by 2010. The goal will be achieved through “New initiatives to prevent Lyme disease including the implementation of community-based prevention programs, host-targeted acaricides to reduce the numbers of vector ticks, and appropriate use of Lyme disease vaccine. ” (Healthy People 2010: 14 Immunization and Infectious Diseases). Natural Life History

Lyme disease is most often found in children under fifteen years old and adults between the ages of thirty nine and forty nine years old. Young children are at risk of tick bites and Lyme infection because of the amount of time they spend playing outside. Other people at risk are hikers, farmers, hunters, scientific researchers, or others that have regular contact with animals or the outdoors (Brown University, 2005). The incidence of Lyme disease seems to be higher from May-August. Symptoms of Lyme disease usually appear within three to thirty days of being bitten.

Usually the first sign of Lyme disease is a circular rash, erythema migrans. This rash occurs in about 80% of infected persons and begins at the site of the tick bite. The rash can grow as large as twelve inches in diameter and often takes on the appearance of a bullseye. Other early signs of Lyme disease include fatigue, chills, fever, joint pain, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes. If not treated, the infection may spread causing Bell’s palsy, severe headaches and neck stiffness, heart palpitations, dizziness associated with heart arrhythmias, and joint pain.

After several months, if Lyme disease is still not treated, 60% of patients will have intermittent arthritis and 5% may develop chronic neurological complaints such as pain, numbness and tingling in extremities, and short term memory loss (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007). Patients showing signs or symptoms of Lyme disease should have ELISA or IFA blood tests performed immediately. If these tests are negative, then no further testing is needed. However, if these tests are positive, then a Western blot test should be performed to confirm Lyme disease.

If confirmed, antibiotics should be started as soon as possible (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008). Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Intervention Methods Primary intervention seeks to reduce the risk of exposure (Corapi, White, Phillips, Daltroy, Shadick, & Liang, 2007). This is done by educating people about Lyme disease and the blacklegged tick. People should be aware of areas where the ticks are most likely found, the appearance of the blacklegged tick, the season when they are most active, and ways to avoid them.

Ways to avoid the tick would include walking in the center of a path away from overhanging brush or tall grass, wearing long sleeves and pants with a tight fit around wrists and ankles, checking your clothing and skin daily for the presence of ticks, and wearing a repellant (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008). Secondary intervention targets the development of disease (Corapi, White, Phillips, Daltroy, Shadick, & Liang, 2007). A good way to prevent the transmission of Lyme disease is to kill the ticks. An acaricide can be used to reduce the tick population by 68-100%.

Also, the removal of leaves, tall grass, brush, and liter under bird feeders can reduce the tick population by creating an environment not favorable to tick survival. A person may also use wood chips or gravel between their homes and the boundaries of the yard. This prevents ticks from migrating to areas where they are not wanted. Finally, the control of the deer population and deer movement can greatly reduce the tick population. Ticks are attracted to the blood of the deer and then the ticks are deposited in other areas as the deer migrate (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008).

Tertiary intervention begins when a case of Lyme disease is expected in a human. After lab tests are performed to verify the presence of Lyme disease, treatment with antibiotics should start immediately (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008). Incidence and Prevalence The incidence of Lyme disease in the United States is a huge problem. Since it became a nationally notifiable disease in 1991, the number of cases has doubled. From 2003-2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received reports of 64,382 cases of Lyme disease from forty six states and the District of Columbia.

Approximately 93% of these cases occurred among residents of ten states including: Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Delaware. Of these, New York and Pennsylvania had the highest rates of infection with almost four times the rate of other at risk states. The average annual rate of infection for these ten states between the years 2003-2005 was 29. 2 cases per 100,000 people. Males accounted for 54% of the reported cases overall and 61% of cases involving children aged 5-14 years.

The average age of the infected population was 41 years old (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007). The incidence of Lyme disease remains at an alarming number despite efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others to educate people on the prevention of the disease. Many scientists believe these numbers will stay high because most Americans do not choose to follow the guidelines set forth to stop the spread of Lyme disease. Although GlaxoSmithCline did introduce a vaccine, LYMErix, in 1999, the company pulled the vaccine off the market on February 26, 2002, blaming poor sales.

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