“Symptoms come on fairly quickly but
often resolve after a few days or weeks,”
Stricker says. “That’s part of the problem. The
disease can still be there and progress if the
person isn’t treated.”
Even when treated with the recom-
mended two to four weeks of antibiotics, an
estimated 20 percent of people will develop
chronic Lyme disease, the CDC says.
When Lyme disease reoccurs, it can cause
arthritis-like symptoms as well as neurological damage, heart and eye problems, limb
weakness and poor motor coordination.
Costco member Andrea Caesar, 40, contracted Lyme disease at age 11 in Rhode Island,
but spent 26 years searching for an explanation
of her many debilitating symptoms.
“Lyme is called the great imitator because
it mimics so many other diseases. It is almost
like playing Whac-A-Mole in trying to figure
out what is wrong. As soon as you get the
diagnosis of fibromyalgia, for example, something else pops up that isn’t related to fibromyalgia,” says Caesar, whose book A Twist of
Lyme: Battling a Disease That “Doesn’t Exist”
(Archway Publishing, 2013; not available at
Costco) details her day-to-day struggle to live
with the illness.
After dozens of doctor visits and seven
false-negative Lyme tests, Caesar’s health
turned a corner after she sought out a “
Lyme-literate” physician associated with ILADS.
“This is an ever-evolving disease in terms
of our understanding of it,” she says. “If you
have the telltale signs of Lyme—or unexplained anything—go to an ILADS doctor,
because they are not going to give up.” C
Andrea Downing Peck is a freelance writer
from Bainbridge Island, Washington.
Forty years after the illness first was identified, in Lyme, Connecticut, Lyme disease
remains a challenge for both patients and
physicians. Controversy surrounds many
aspects of the bacterial disease, with the
Infectious Diseases Society of America and
ILADS crossing swords over the reliability of
diagnostic tests and treatment approaches.
“Patients need to take it upon themselves
to get educated so they have all their options
in front of them and realize there’s not just
one approach to this illness,” says Dr. Steven
Phillips, past president of ILADS. “There’s a
controversy in the medical community.”
According to the CDC, 95 percent of
confirmed Lyme disease cases are reported
from 14 states: Connecticut, Delaware,
Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota,
New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York,
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont,
Virginia and Wisconsin. However, Lyme-
disease-carrying ticks have been identified in
all 50 states.
“If you live in New England, you can get
exposure doing things you wouldn’t normally think of as high-risk activities, like
walking across the lawn,” says Phillips, a
If you are bitten by a tick in a Lyme-endemic area, quickly remove the parasite
and bag it for potential testing.
“The faster you get the tick off, the better,”
Stricker says, but any time a tick is attached is
long enough to get infected.
Early Lyme disease symptoms appear
within three to 30 days and usually include a
bull’s-eye-shaped rash, but many people
develop a solid rash or no rash. Flu-like symptoms such as headache, fever, muscle/joint
aches and fatigue are also common.
MAY 2015 The Costco Connection 59
The Costco Connection
Costco warehouses carry a variety of insect
repellent sprays, and periodically offer outdoor activewear. Antibiotics and other prescription items for treatment of Lyme disease are available at Costco pharmacies.
n Use a repellent with DEET on your skin,
and treat clothing, socks, shoes and
gear with permethrin.
n Wear light-colored clothing so ticks will
be easier to spot. Tuck pants into socks,
pull back hair and wear a baseball cap.
n Check daily for ticks, which hide in skin
folds and hair.
n Shower soon after being in wooded or
n Routinely check pets for ticks. — ADP
By Andrea Downing Peck
HIKING, CAMPING AND outdoor activities are harbingers of spring for many people,
but exposure to Lyme-disease-carrying deer
ticks could take a bite out of your fun.
The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) focused a spotlight on
Lyme disease in 2013 when it announced
there are roughly 300,000 new cases each
year, 10 times more than the 30,000 annual
cases previously reported.
“Lyme disease is a major epidemic in this
country,” says Dr. Raphael Stricker, director of
the International Lyme and Associated
Diseases Society (ILADS; ilads.org). “It is a
huge problem for people who spend a lot of
time outdoors and are exposed to ticks.”
In the Northeast and upper Midwest,
people living near woods need to be on the
lookout for tiny deer tick nymphs from late
April through July. From October until the
first snowstorm, the larger adult female deer
tick, with its signature copper abdomen, is
active. In California and other regions, ticks
can be active year-round.
“The juvenile stage of the tick is a real
problem, because they’re the size of a poppy
seed,” says Douglas Serafin of the Greenwich
Health Department in Connecticut. “They
attach to the body and stay attached for three
to five days. They are hard to find if they are
not in an obvious place and you’re not looking for them.”
in the Lyme light