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This Is Not the Usual Lyme Disease Tale

What many don't realize: In most cases, the ailment is easily treatable
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2019 1:50 PM CDT
File photo of a deer tick under a microscope in the entomology lab at the University of Rhode Island in South Kingstown, R.I.   (AP Photo/Victoria Arocho, File)

(Newser) – Horror stories about Lyme disease abound, as Apoorva Mandavilli discovered when she started telling people that her 9-year-old son had been diagnosed. Everybody seems to know someone, or knows somebody who knows someone, who is suffering awful symptoms that never seem to go away. But as Mandavilli writes in a New York Times op-ed, what many people fail to realize is this: In most cases, Lyme disease is pretty easy to treat. Her son, for instance, took antibiotics for a month and is now fine. She emphasizes that she's not trying to "trivialize" the disease, which is diagnosed in about 300,000 people a year, but to remove some of the unwarranted fear surrounding it.

"As we discovered in the few weeks of his diagnosis and treatment, many people view Lyme wrongly—as a debilitating, chronic illness instead of what it is: An easily treated infection with no long-term consequences for children, or even the vast majority of adults," writes Mandavilli. The tricky part is often getting a correct diagnosis given the difficulty of interpreting tests and the lag time for antibodies to develop. Incorrect diagnoses are another problem, and may explain some of the worst case of "Lyme," which might not be Lyme at all. Click to read the full column, which talks about warning signs, including a spreading rash and a single swollen knee. (Read more Lyme disease stories.)

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