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Category: Lyme Disease
Of all the lab tests available to people, the Lyme Disease test may be one people most overlook or not even realize exists.
Because Lyme disease spreads through tick bites, some people associate the dangerous condition with dogs. However, thanks to awareness events and a new documentary, some people are starting to realize the risk of contracting the disease.
Last year a documentary was released called Under Our Skin which followed patients and physicians as they maneuver through treatments for the disease and focuses on "a haunting picture of our healthcare system and the reality of Lyme Disease," RocklinToday.com reports.
According to the film's website, the disease is "an emerging epidemic that is larger than AIDS" where "each year thousands go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed [and] told their symptoms are 'all in their head.'"
While a noticeable rash may present when a person has contracted the disease, other symptoms such as fatigue, chills, fever, headache, and muscle and joint aches may be more subtle. Some confusion has occurred in diagnosing this condition because the symptoms of Lyme disease can occur in other conditions as well.
For New York resident Karyn Schassler, the documentary helped her realize her husband may be suffering from Chronic Lyme Disease, the New York newspaper the Daily Mail reports. Though Steven was treated for Lyme Disease in the past, he continued to suffer from shortness of breath and feeling "rundown."
Schassler saw the documentary during the Chatham Film Festival last October and convinced her husband to get a lab test for the condition, according to the article.
"It came back positive," Steven said. "And it was off the charts."
The film was produced and directed by Andy Abrahams Wilson, who was personally affected by the disease after his twin sister was diagnosed with Lyme and had initially mistook her symptoms as "laziness."
"I started to think maybe she was faking it," Wilson admitted to the Daily Mail. However, after he said he learned more about the disease and how it can appear to be other conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, lupus, autism, Parkinson's and ALS, he changed his mind.
"I was shocked at what Lyme could do. If I was so surprised, other people would be as well," Wilson said.
Lyme disease affects numerous systems in the body through bacteria and is caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdoferi, which lives in the bodies of wild animals, according to the Lyme Disease Foundation. The disease is transferred to people through the bite of a tick.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of 27,444 cases of Lyme disease were reported in 2007, which was a national average of 9.1 cases per 100,000 persons. In states where the condition is most common, the average rose to 34.7 cases per 100,000.
One of those highly affected states is Connecticut, a place described by News Channel 8 WTNH as "ground zero for Lyme disease."
People who find themselves in the New England area, or other places in the country with ticks, may want to wear protective clothing when venturing out in a forest.
If a tick is found on the body, health officials recommend people use a pair of tweezers to remove the potentially harmful tick. People should not try to crush a tick that is embedded into their skin or attempt to burn it off. Ticks infected with Lyme disease cannot transfer the condition for 36 to 48 hours.
Finally, some people who suspected they may have contracted the disease have used a Lyme disease test or, for convenience, looked into getting an online lab test to check their status.
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