Lyme disease has personally impacted DryHome owner, Steve Gotschi. One of his family members has been battling this disease for more than 12 years.
Nine years ago, to try and help others avoid a similar situation, Steve founded LoudounLyme. This past year, with a location move outside of Loudoun, the name has been changed to FinishLyme, This 5K and 1K Fun Run is held annually in Northern Virginia, to drive awareness and raise money to help find a cure for Lyme disease. Read on to learn more and lend a hand right in our area.
What Is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted to humans by blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks). This disease can affect any organ of the body, including the brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, and the heart. It’s often misdiagnosed, as it can mimic other conditions.
This disease is fast-growing, with approximately 300,000 cases of Lyme disease being diagnosed every year.
What Are the Symptoms?
Symptoms will vary based on the stage of Lyme disease. The early symptoms include:
- Stiff neck
- Muscle aches
- Partial facial paralysis
- Skin rash at the site of the tick bite (not everyone will develop this)
As the disease progresses, people will experience:
- Joint pain and swelling
- Heart complications
- Motor and peripheral neuropathies
- ADHD-like symptoms
- Impaired memory and concentration
- Muscle, tendon and bone pain
How Can I Get Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is given to humans by ticks that live in grassy or wooded areas. Most often, people contract Lyme from the bite of the nymphal – or immature – form of the tick. At this stage, the tick is about the size of a poppy seed, making it difficult to feel the bite or even see the tick.
Once a tick attaches to your skin, it may feed for several days if left undisturbed. The longer it stays attached, the more likely it will transfer Lyme disease.
How Can I Prevent Tick Bites?
Reducing your exposure to ticks is the best way to prevent Lyme disease. While tick exposure is possible all year, they are most active from April to September. Before you go outside, you can treat your clothes and gear with permethrin and/or use insect repellent. While outside, you should avoid bushy areas with leaves and high grass – making sure to walk in the center of trails.
When you come inside, check your body and clothing for ticks. Take a shower immediately, and wash and dry your clothes on high heat to kill any ticks. Check your hair, ears, armpits, belly button, waist, between your legs and the back of your knees.
Keep in mind that ticks aren’t just in wooded areas – they can also be in your yard. In addition, they can attach to pets, which can then bring the ticks into your home. If your dog or cat goes outside, make sure to check them for ticks on their eyes, eyelids, collar area and tail, as well as under their legs and between their toes.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have Lyme Disease?
Visit your doctor immediately. The sooner you receive the appropriate treatment, the better. Many people will recover completely and quickly when treated with the appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease. If you think you may be in the later stages of Lyme disease, it’s critical to consult a doctor to obtain a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
If you live in the Northern Virginia/DC/Maryland area, you can participate in the FinishLyme 5K and 1K Fun Run in Fairfax on May 19.
All proceeds to go to the National Capital Lyme Disease Association (NatCapLyme), which strives to improve the quality of life for people suffering from Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses by offering support and disseminating information that educates and empowers patients, families, healthcare workers and the community at large.
If you aren’t able to run or walk, you can always make a difference by donating to the cause.
Sponsorship opportunities are also available.
Thanks to people’s help and efforts, we can raise money to bring about significant changes in the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme and tick-borne diseases.