Persistent Lyme Disease Symptoms May Cause Disability

The Center for Disease Control (www.CDC.gov) reported 17,730 cases of Lyme Disease in the year 2000 and as of 2012, over 100,000 cases have been reported. Lyme Disease is a growing epidemic in America and was first recognized in 1975 in Lyme, Connecticut, where the first outbreak occurred. Lyme Disease is the illness that results from the bite of an infected tick and it is the most common tick-born infectious disease in the United States.

Several related species of Borrelia cause Lyme Disease (Lyme Borrelia). Virtually all patients in the United States are infected with a single species called Borrelia burgdorferi, the spirochete that infects the deer tick and causes Lyme Disease. Worldwide, there are about 850 tick species and 30 major tick-borne diseases.

The infection usually starts with a painless, spreading “bull’s eye” rash where the tick had attached itself to the skin. If you notice your tick bite right away and you are treated with antibiotics, this infection can be cleared fairly easily. If the cause is not found until later, people with Lyme Disease are more likely to feel fatigued, suffer from poor sleep, and muscle and joint pain, even after treatment. Other symptoms might be an acute fever, rash, Bells’ palsy (paralysis of the face), headache, and joint and muscle pain. Some patients may complain of sensory symptoms such as burning, shooting pain or numbness. Your doctor may administer blood tests to determine if Lyme Disease is causing your symptoms and to rule out other diagnoses.

The American Lyme Disease Foundation (www.aldf.com) recommends the following precautions as part of your routine:

• Wear enclosed shoes and light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily
• Scan clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors
• Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails
• Use insect repellant containing DEET (Diethyl-meta-toluamide) on skin or clothes if you intend to go off-trail or into overgrown areas
• Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls (havens for ticks and their hosts)
• Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening
• Do a final, full-body tick-check at the end of the day (also check children and pets)

According to the American College of Rheumatology (www.rheumatology.org), even when antibiotic treatment does not start until the later stages, it is still successful in most patients. Approximately 10-20% of those who suffer from Lyme Disease, particularly if the disease was diagnosed in its later states, have persistent or chronic symptoms. These individuals are treated for Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS).

Persistent pain, joint and muscle aches, fatigue, impaired cognitive function and numbness may all affect an individual’s ability to work. If the symptoms of Lyme Disease have made working difficult for you, contact the O’Ryan Law Firm to discuss your options for short term disability, long term disability benefits and Social Security Disability benefits. We can be reached at (855) 778-5055.