May 2014 is Lyme Disease Awareness Month in the United States, focusing attention on Lyme disease prevention and treatment. The CDC’s most current statistics regarding the number of reported cases of Lyme disease in the United States, from 2003 through 2012, indicate that the number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease ranged from a low of 19,804 in 2004 to a high of 29,959 in 2009. It has been suggested that the unreported cases of Lyme disease in the United States may be up to ten times the number of the reported cases.
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans (often described as a bulls-eye appearing rash). If left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. The diagnosis of Lyme disease is based on symptoms, physical findings, and the possible exposure to infected ticks. Certain laboratory tests can be helpful only if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Most cases of Lyme disease are treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics.
Approximately 10% to 20% of Lyme disease patients treated with a recommended 2 to 4 week course of antibiotics continue to have symptoms of fatigue, pain, or joint and muscle aches. While some people refer to the lingering effects of Lyme disease as “chronic Lyme disease,” it is properly known as “Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome” (PTLDS).
The exact cause of PTLDS is not yet known but is believed to be the result of residual damage to tissues and the immune system that occurred during the infection.
Mark Soloski, Ph.D., a professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and senior author of an April 2014 report regarding Lyme disease has stated, “Physicians have recognized for many years that Lyme disease is not a uniform disease process and can vary in outcomes. Our experiments have linked such differences to specific immune pathways controlled by elements of the immune system, which in turn might help us understand both the good immune processes that clear up the infection and the bad ones that cause injury and prolong symptoms. This could be a big step forward in managing this disease.”
It is important that a Lyme disease infection be diagnosed timely and treated appropriately. Failure to do so may give rise to a medical malpractice claim. A medical malpractice lawyer versed in Lyme disease issues, including the diagnosis, treatment, and management of Lyme disease, may investigate the basis for a Lyme disease medical malpractice claim for you and be an important asset for you should a Lyme disease medical malpractice claim be anticipated.
If you or a loved one were affected by Lyme disease and you have questions whether the diagnosis and treatment were timely and appropriate, you may contact MedicalMalpracticeLawyers.com to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may investigate your Lyme disease claim for you and represent you in a Lyme disease medical malpractice claim, if appropriate.
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