Ticks : Living with "Rare"

 Living with "Rare"

A blog devoted to navigating and analyzing life with 
Rare and Complex Disorders.



Ticks

by RNE submissions on 06/13/18

By Joanna Mechlinski

The very idea of summer goes hand in hand with fun for most people. But unfortunately, as with any other time of year, the season poses some potentially serious health hazards – including ticks.

Most people understand that ticks cause Lyme disease. But the fact is, ticks are actually responsible for numerous other diseases, depending on the type of tick. Many of them are quite rare. One of them is Powassan virus, which causes encephalitis and meningitis. About 10% of those with the virus die; about 50% of survivors are left with permanent neurological damage. Other tick-borne diseases include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which often presents with a rash and can lead to amputation of arms, legs, fingers or toes in serious cases due to blood vessel damage; Anaplasmosis, transmitted by the black-legged tick and leading to vague symptoms such as fever, chills, malaise and muscle aches, which may be easily confused with a variety of other diseases.

It’s even possible to succumb to a type of paralysis caused by a toxin in tick saliva. According to the CDC, tick paralysis generally strikes children or the elderly, starting in the lower body and moving upwards. While symptoms usually subside within 24 hours of tick removal, due to the way many symptoms can mimic other diseases, it can be difficult for medical professionals to realize that a tick is responsible in the first place. 

What’s more, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that climate change caused the number of causes to double between 2004 and 2016, especially in the Northeast and northern Midwest. (In fact, when also classified with diseases spread by mosquito and flea, the entire group of cases topped 640,000 – triple the number prior to 2004). But given that people travel, those who live outside the target areas should be just as vigilant.

So what can a person do? As with many other things in life, prevention is always best. It’s recommended that people spending time outdoors cover up, wear light colors, use repellant, conduct a thorough search of their bodies for ticks and once returning home.

 

 

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A lifelong Connecticut resident, Joanna Mechlinski is a former newspaper reporter who now works in education. She was diagnosed with lupus, fibromyalgia and polymyositis in her early twenties. In addition to helping spread rare and chronic illness awareness, Joanna is also passionate about animal advocacy, reading, writing, and road trips.

 Mary-Frances Garber is a licensed genetic counselor, providing supportive counseling for families in search of a diagnosis, a listening ear for those receiving a new diagnosis and decision-making counseling for individuals or couples facing choices regarding having another child . She also is available for bereavement counseling. Patients are seen in a private office setting in Needham, Massachusetts.
Listening, Reflecting, HealingSupportive Genetic Counseling 
Find more info here.
Meet our blog writers!
Jenna Anne
  I write to you as a wife and mother of 4 children. Three daughters and a medically complex son. I live in New England and have a love of fiber arts, music, and most importantly advocating for my children. My background is in Early Childhood Education and Music Education, I have no medical background aside from what I have had to learn on this medical journey. My writing is not statistic based, it’s not guidelines or resources but rather I bring a perspective from the human experience. Often in this world of medical complexity we focus specifically on the patient and the diagnosis and treatments, my writings offer the community a different perspective on how the day to day events are affected by medical interventions. The impact it has on siblings and family. The perseverance it takes to keep a wholesome family continuously adapting and thriving amidst all the challenges of medical complexity. My writings are often raw and unapologetic and speak to the human experience behind the policy, coding and diagnostics of modern medicine.  

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