When you live in beautiful surroundings, like those in Morgan County, you are bound to spend a lot of time outdoors. The sunshine makes you feel so carefree, most people don’t even think about little things like checking for ticks after a great hike or walk through the woods.
Dustin and Tara Thackeray learned a difficult lesson about the tiny invaders when Tara discovered her tick bite had indeed led to Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of a tick, and is prevalent across the United States and throughout the world.
The disease is caused by a spiral-shaped bacteria (spirochete) called Borrelia Burgdorferi. The Lyme spirochete can cause infection of multiple organs and produce a wide range of symptoms.
Early symptoms include a flu-like illness (fever, chills, sweats, nausea, aches, fatigue, and joint pain), and in some cases a rash or bell’s palsy (paralysis of one side of the face).
Many people associate Lyme disease with a “bull’s eye” shaped rash called the erythema migrans rash, however fewer than 50 percent of patients with Lyme disease recall any rash. Left untreated, or, if the patient never recalls a tick bite or does not experience an acute illness after a tick bite, the disease can remain undetected for years, fully spreading throughout the body, including to the brain and nervous system.
Later stages of Lyme disease can cause severe cardiac and neurological disorders and are commonly misdiagnosed as MS, Parkinson’s Disease, ALS, arthritis, and others. These symptoms can gradually build or can appear suddenly.
According to Thackeray, many people develop chronic Lyme disease due to faulty testing methods devised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which are designed to detect and acknowledge only acute stages of this disease. “In recent years the CDC has admitted to the insufficient testing criteria for Lyme disease. As a result many patients like myself fall through the cracks due to high false-negative test results,” said Thackeray.
To add to the difficulty of this disease, most in the medical profession are unfamiliar with not just the problems with current testing methods, but also on how to successfully treat patients, especially those with widespread infection. Those doctors who are aware choose not to stray from current CDC recommendations due to pressures from insurance companies who also follow these out-dated CDC guidelines.
“Because of the controversies surrounding testing and treatment, many of us are forced to seek out ‘Lyme-literate’ Medical Doctors (LLMD’s) for our diagnosis and treatment and often travel out of state to do so. To add insult to injury, insurance companies rarely cover antibiotic treatment for chronic or Late-Stage Lyme,” said a concerned Thackeray.
For patients like Thackeray who have extensive brain and nervous system involvement, treatment is costly and lengthy. Many undergoing IV treatment pay upwards of $7,000 and above a month, out of pocket, for their medical care.
Thackeray currently flies to the East Coast to see her doctor every 4-6 weeks, and is undergoing IV antibiotic therapy in the hopes of achieving a remission of this disease. However, the Lyme spirochete is evasive, deeply embedded and can lay dormant protected from the immune system or antibiotics. Because of this, treatment for this tricky disease often takes years. Given the fact that insurance companies do not cover most treatment many patients cannot afford to get well and go broke trying.
For this reason, there are fundraising efforts needed. Tara’s family members will be holding a benefit yard and bake sale Saturday, June 14 at 8 a.m. at Colleen Mecham’s house located at 245 W. 100 N. in Morgan.
All proceeds will be donated to help pay for Thackeray’s travel and medical expenses. J’s Drive In has been very generous and will donate all ice cream cone and Tangee cone sales this Friday and Saturday to the cause. In support of the event, the Tangee flavor will be cherry “Lyme” this weekend.
Donations are still needed for the yard sale, bake sale and raffle that will be held the same day. If you would like to help, please contact Kyle Thackeray at 801-781-0613.
“In the fullness of time, the mainstream handling of Chronic Lyme Disease will be viewed as one of the most shameful episodes in the history or medicine because elements of academic medicine, elements of government, and virtually the entire insurance industry have colluded to deny a disease which has resulted in the needless suffering of many individuals who deteriorate and sometimes die for lack of timely application of treatment or denial of treatment beyond some arbitrary duration.” -Kenneth B. Liengner, MD
Prevention is the best medicine. Simple tick checks after spending time outdoors are useful in preventing attachment. Bathing with a washcloth can easily dislodge a tick before is attaches. It is important to dress protectively during summer months, especially with prolonged outdoor activities.
Wearing light clothing will aid in noticing ticks. Also dressing in long pants and long sleeves as well as tucking in pant legs offers additional protection. Bug repellents also offer some protection against ticks. Applying repellent that contains DEET (diethyltoluamide) to clothing prior to out door exposure is recommend for those who plan prolonged out door activities.
To learn more visit www.ilads.org or www.lymeutah.com/index.html. Thackeray also has a YouTube video detailing her illness and treatment at www.youtube.com/watch?v=bN0W0a9tp_0