LYME DISEASE| A Personal Journey
BALTIMORE (WBFF)-- We are heading into the most dangerous time of year for Lyme Disease and it's spreading rapidly here in Maryland.
The symptoms are easy to miss, believe me. There's fatigue, but maybe you wake up early for work. There's body aches, but maybe you have two little ones jumping on you at home. There's also headaches and that's when I stopped making excuses. After a few really bad migraines where my vision became blurry, I went to see Doctor Wolf, a neurologist at GBMC.
Turns out, I have Lyme Disease and I am far from alone in this diagnosis. Roughly 300-thousand people are diagnosed with Lyme Disease each year in the United States, making it one of the fastest growing infectious diseases.
Unfortunately, for Justin Decker, he's also been diagnosed. Decker is a hospital administrator, a husband and father of two whose life has been drastically impacted by Lyme Disease.
Lyme Disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks and it doesn't have to be warm for ticks to be out. They feed anytime it's over 40 degrees.
Doctor John Aucott says Maryland is a hot bed for ticks. That's why he started the Lyme Disease research center at Johns Hopkins in 2015.
Dr. Aucott says only about 20 percent of those infected see that classic bullseye rash.
Patients who see it are treated right away with antibiotics but those who don't see it can experience neurological issues as the disease manifests, from new and unusual headaches, like I did, to facial paralysis. Occasionally it can cause Meningitis, possibly even irregular heartbeats if untreated. After about six months, you could see swelling and inflammation in the joints.
Decker is among the 10 percent of people that continue to have ongoing symptoms after several antibiotic treatments. He says, "I've had a headaches for 7 years now." He's also fatigued and had facial paralysis at one point. He's been a part of Doctor Aucott's Lyme Disease research.
Until there is an effective vaccine for humans, there are a few things you can do to avoid being bitten. Doctors recommend wearing long pants and long sleeves when you're outside. You can even treat your clothes with tick repellant that contains Permethrin. Also, try staying on the trail and avoid high grass where ticks usually are. Once you come inside, check for ticks. If you find one use tweezers to gently pull it off your skin.