Q&A with Dr. William Knudson: Lyme Disease is a Public Health Problem

Dr. William KnudsonLyme disease is the fastest infectious disease on the planet.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that every year 300,000 Americans are infected with the disease.  Below, Dr. William Knudson explains Lyme disease symptoms, treatment and prevention.

Q: Where does Lyme disease occur?

 Dr. William Knudson: Although Lyme disease has been found in many states, more than 95 percent of cases come from the Northeast to upper Midwest, ranging from Maine to Virginia.

Q: How does a person get Lyme disease?

 Dr. William Knudson: You can get Lyme disease from a black-legged deer tick.  The

tick jumps on the person and inserts its pincers into the skin. It then stays attached and feeds off the blood. In return, the tick injects the bacteria Borrelia Burgdorferi into the person.

 Q: What are the symptoms of Lyme Disease?

 Dr. William Knudson: Most of the pain is caused by the way the disease targets the immune system. It triggers inflammation and can attack the peripheral nervous system, causing pain through the entire body. The inflammation can also cause headaches, fever and fatigue, and even memory loss and depression.

 Q: How is Lyme disease treated?

 Dr. William Knudson: Lyme disease can be cured if caught early.  Oral antibiotics usually do the job for a vast majority of patients.

 Q: How can I prevent ticks from attaching to my skin?

Dr. William Knudson: Wear protective clothing such as long light- colored pants and shirts. Showering within two hours of potential exposures to ticks and using a tick repellent can reduce the chance of being infected with Lyme disease. It’s important to develop a habit of inspecting the skin for ticks when coming in from the outdoors.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about Lyme disease, in your opinion?

 Dr. William Knudson: Some people think that everyone who gets the disease will get the bulls-eye redness around the tick bite. But that’s not always the case. Only around 70 % of people get the marks, and this can vary by region.