In our own Backyard
Lyme in The South
Because the risk and reported incidence of Lyme and other Tick-Borne Diseases (TBDs) in the South is not accurately reported, patients in Alabama, and the rest of the South, are routinely denied a proper diagnosis and treatment for the cause of what are often an array of confusing symptoms. In August 2013 the CDC released a report stating that the actual incidence of annual new cases of Lyme Disease is roughly 10X their earlier estimates. Read the Press Release>
A combination of inadequate testing for TBDs, and more restrictive guidelines for reporting cases of Lyme Disease in the South has led to an inaccurate accounting of actual cases. This inaccurate accounting has led to misinformation in the medical community and in the public that has created roadblocks for patients infected with Lyme Disease and other TBDs in the South.
Dr. Kerry Clark, a University of North Florida professor of epidemiology and environmental health, recently published a report that found Borrelia burgdorferi (the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease) in ticks in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Dr. Clark’s research has revealed what many in the South and other "non-endemic" areas of the country have long believed: Lyme-carrying ticks are spreading the illness here at vastly higher rates than what public health statistics and experts have suggested.
According to Dr. Clark, "Lyme disease is by far the most common vector-borne disease in the United States, but it is still erroneously considered as rare in most areas of the Southeast. Under-recognition and misdiagnosis are common in southern states. Often, infections are diagnosed as Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (a.k.a. STARI), believed to be a separate disease, but for which no cause has been identified. Also, controversy exists over the tick species responsible for transmitting Lyme disease in the South. The aim of my study was to determine the cause of illness in several human patients in Florida and Georgia who, based on signs or symptoms, were suspected of having Lyme disease."
Dr. Clark's recently published research proved that the aggressive Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum), that is prevalent in the South, transmits Lyme Disease. Further, Dr. Clark's research revealed that the Lone Star tick transmits two different strains of the Lyme Disease bacteria to humans; neither of these is uncovered with CDC recommended lab tests. Individuals in the South are therefore much more likely to obtain false negative lab results. Because current lab testing guidelines have been proven to miss more than half of actual cases (http://tinyurl.com/mkjoeop), it is therefore reasonable to conclude that actual cases are vastly underreported in the South. Read Dr. Clark's Full Report>