A September 17, 2010 article in Australia's Port Macquarie News confirmed that Lyme disease has arrived in Australia, a first for the nation. Two patients of Dr. Peter Mayne, a general practitioner, had tissue samples sent out for DNA analysis, and they returned positive for the bacteria that causes the disease.Though there is debate as to whether ticks carrying Lyme even exist in Australia, these cases, as well as the case of a Sydney man who was shown to have been suffering from Lyme disease after he died show that even in areas of the world far removed from Lyme, Connecticut, where the disease was first identified, must be vigilant when it comes to tick bites.Lyme disease symptoms usually include fever, headaches, joint aches, and general tiredness early in the disease, and the vague nature of these symptoms makes The disease is somewhat hard to diagnose unless the typical "bullseye" rash is present as well. Another problem is that the screening test for Lyme does return false positives in some cases. In those cases, another, more expensive, test is done, the Western Blot test, which can determine whether the disease is in fact present.If Lyme disease is allowed to progress, it can spread throughout the bloodstream and affect not only the joints, but the brain and heart as well.Fortunately, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease can usually be wiped out fairly easily with antibiotics. Unfortunately, the symptoms of the disease can persist even after the bacteria has been eradicated.Some studies show that persistent symptoms of Lyme disease take hold in anywhere from 0.5% to 13% of patients, and the treatment of these ongoing Lyme symptoms is somewhat controversial. That is because many physicians are ill-equipped to manage symptoms in the absence of a definable cause, such as the bacteria that causes the disease.This means that in many of these cases, patients must educate themselves (and sometimes their health care providers, if they can) about what is going on, and must take control of getting their symptoms managed so they can make a full recovery and return to good health.While most cases of the disease occur in North America - particularly in New England and the northwest - the discovery of the cases in Australia shows that everyone should be concerned about preventing tick bites and monitoring the healing of tick bites once ticks are removed.In North America, the deer population is expanding, and human development is edging every closer to their natural habitats. A single deer can carry hundreds of the ticks, and just one female tick can lay 2,000 or more eggs.Complicating matters further, is that these ticks are very tiny, about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. They also tend to hide on humans in hard to see places such as behind the knees, in the groin region, and in the armpits.Anyone who has been in areas where deer live should thoroughly scan themselves for ticks afterward, with the help of another person if necessary. Deer ticks have to remain attached for awhile to spread the disease to humans, so it is important to remove them as soon as they are discovered.Don't take chances with Lyme disease symptoms. The long term risks of the disease are serious, and include cardiac and neurological damage.
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