Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Healthcare Resources is proud to be part of an exciting new project on Lyme disease. Dr. Omar Morales is a Tick-Born Disease Specialist and has created an informative website, LymeDiseaseMexico.com.
Lyme disease is reaching epidemic proportions. As we begin our own journey to educate the public (and ourselves!) about this condition, we will be doing an informative series of articles.
What better way to begin than to sit down and begin an interview with Dr. Omar on the absolute basics of Lyme disease?
Healthcare Resources (HCR): In layman's terms and as simple and as short as possible, please explain what Lyme disease is.
Dr. Morales: Lyme disease is a world-wide infectious disease caused by microscopic bacteria carried by ticks.
HCR: What are the symptoms?
Dr. Morales: A characteristic red, bulls-eye rash (EM) at the site of the bite is present in less than 40% of patients. The rash may appear within days to weeks after the bite, but can be hidden in the hairline or underarms. Some patients report flu-like symptoms, fever, aches, fatigue, neck stiffness, jaw discomfort, muscle pain and stiffness, swollen glands and red eyes. Symptoms may appear, disappear and reappear at various times. Nervous symptom abnormalities include memory loss, Chronic fatigue, insomnia, depression and partial facial paralysis (Bell's Palsy). Migratory joint pains and pains in the tendons, muscles and bones may occur later in the disease. Arthritic symptoms, if present, usually affect the large joints such as the knees.
HCR: What is the estimated amount of people in North America with Lyme disease?
Dr. Morales: According to CDC case reports of Lyme disease in the United States in 2013, there were less than 30,000 people confirmed with the diagnosis. In 2014, the CDC estimated the number of newly infected people was around half a million. "This new preliminary estimate confirms that Lyme disease is a tremendous public health problem in the United States", says Dr. Paul Mead, chief of epidemiology for the CDC's Lyme disease program. Currently, the CDC estimates that approximately 40 people per hour become infected for the first time with Lyme disease, nationwide.
HCR: Do we have Lyme disease in Mexico?
Dr. Morales: Since 2007, 4 cases were reported by Dr. Gordillo-Perez, an associate researcher at the Infectious Disease Research Unit at the Pediatric Hospital, Centro Medico National in Mexico City. The four patients who had received tick bites while visiting forests in Mexico had skin lesions that met the case definition for Lyme disease which tested positive to immunological testing. Currently, there is no updated information to estimate the current number of cases in Mexico. In addition, only a few doctors recognize the disease and even fewer study it or report newly infected cases. The disease is spreading geographically. Ticks have no boundaries and have no borders. Lyme disease is not only becoming more rampant in the normal hot spots of the northeast United States. It is spreading across the country and crossing borders in various forms of travel as warned by a new report from the CDC. In addition to this, local cases have been infected in surrounding areas to Puerto Vallarta, where cattle and domestic animals are closely bound to human interaction.
You can read further about Lyme disease at LymeDiseaseMexico.com, or on the LYME Disease Mexico Facebook page. If you have questions or need further information, please email Pamela(at)healthcareresourcespv.com.In our next article we will discuss with Dr. Morales how Lyme disease is diagnosed - and mis diagnosed in a vast amount of the cases.
Pamela Thompson has lived and worked in Puerto Vallarta for over 19 years, 10 of them in health care. Pamela now leads HealthCare Resources Puerto Vallarta, a local healthcare resource network. Her years of experience and expertise are available to you by emailing your questions to pamela(at)healthcareresourcespv.com or by visiting HealthCareResourcesPV.com.
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