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Doctors, patients must realize Lyme disease is in the Adirondacks

August 31, 2018
Editorial , Lake Placid News

One thing that became clear from our recent reporting on ticks in the Adirondacks is that local doctors have been a little behind the curve on diagnosing Lyme disease.

Lyme is carried by blacklegged (aka deer) ticks, which also bite humans. The disease can have varying and confusing symptoms, similar to those of other ailments, so it's not surprising doctors might have a hard time nailing it down. But there's a pretty simple blood test for it, and as we learned from the case of Tupper Lake Police Department Chief Eric Proulx, doctors don't always order that test.

After getting a bite on his neck, Proulx was in agony for four months, was run through expensive tests and even a neurology consult, and was even suspected of trying to get pain pills out of addiction. It turned out he had Lyme disease the whole time. The bite apparently had come from a tick.

This is just one case. We didn't used to have ticks or Lyme disease in the Adirondacks, and there's a learning curve as the medical community gets used to it. But it's time for everyone to realize that Lyme is very much among us now.

Average people also has a lot to learn about how to prevent getting Lyme disease. Ticks perch on grass with legs raised, waiting to hitch a ride and then suck your blood. If you wear long pants and tuck them into your socks, any tick you pick up is less likely to make it to your skin. Even more important, check your body for ticks (all over, sad to say) any time you get home from being out in woods or tall grass. It takes more than 24 hours for a tick to infect a host with Lyme disease, so catch it before then.

Unfortunately, some ticks now carry other, more dangerous diseases that can infect you in less than 24 hours. Thankfully, those diseases are rarer - for now, at least.

Scientists say global climate change, caused by human pollution, is the most likely reason why ticks have made their way north to the Adirondack Mountains. Other annoyances, such as poison ivy and poisonous snakes, could be close behind. It makes us grateful that our Adirondacks have been blissfully free of these pests for all of history. Now we must face them down the way people elsewhere do. In that way, the Adirondack Park has gotten a little less set apart.



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