An old friend who died recently had spent decades fighting against the health threats posed by nuclear power, fracking and many other forms of pollution. But it wasn’t man-made toxins that took him down; it was a tick.
The last time I had a chance to spend a lot of time with Chip at his Dutchess County home, it was the summer of 2004 and he had a huge bag of George W. Bush buttons. And they weren’t urging his re-election.
I still have one that reads, “Stop Mad-Cowboy Disease” over a picture of Bush wearing his cowboy hat.
Now, however, we have to figure out a way to stop the spread of tick-borne diseases.
By now, we’ve all heard of Lyme disease, the sickness caused by deer-tick infection that first appeared in Connecticut more than 25 years ago. The number of Lyme disease cases has been increasing steadily in Otsego County to more than 20 confirmed incidences a year. In the Hudson Valley, however, the number of cases annually is in the thousands.
But even after all that time and all those cases, debate still rages over the identification and treatment of the disease. There are numerous “probable” cases each year because some physicians are hesitant to diagnose the symptoms as Lyme disease.
Lyme disease symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a skin rash. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system.
Robert Tuthill, of the Oneonta-Cooperstown Lyme Disease Support Group, has told The Daily Star that, “unless you are treated correctly, you’ll have it for life.”
Rep. Chris Gibson earlier this year said the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must do more to come up with an accurate test for Lyme disease and more effective treatments.