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Outdoor Workers Should Consider Lyme Disease Vaccination

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Patient outcomes are significantly improved if the disease is caught within six months to a year. "The longer you wait, the harder it is to treat," adds Donta. "So nobody should ignore, accept, or feel embarrassed about minor symptoms. Even though it's not life threatening, Lyme disease affects quality of life for millions of Americans."

In fact, whole families have been diagnosed with the disease. "My husband, myself, and our three daughters all had positive blood tests," says Janice Schutten, 49, a patient of Donta's for two years. "For me, it was like a flu that didn't go away. I never even found a tick [on a family member], but I did remove them from our dogs."

Schutten tells WebMD that Lyme disease explains her joint pain. "I had back pain and a sore knee five years before I was diagnosed, but we never put it together. It's a very insidious disease," she says. "My daughters and I have to stay on antibiotics until our symptoms improve and there are no new symptoms."

When asked about insurance coverage, she sighed. "Getting reimbursement for the girls' blood tests was a struggle, but I pursued it vigorously and they paid it," says Schutten. "Recently, I've heard that the HMOs are developing guidelines for Lyme disease treatment."

Vital Information:

  • Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks. Often, a rash that resembles a bull's-eye appears, but the disease can be difficult to diagnose. Serious long-term problems can occur, including arthritis, neurological symptoms, and heart disease.
  • Removing ticks within two days is the best way to prevent the infection. Other preventive measures include wearing long-sleeve shirts, tucking long pants into socks, and spraying clothes with insect repellant that contains DEET.
  • Vaccinations are recommended for outdoor workers and others who spend time in wooded areas. The vaccine is a series of three injections and is up to 80% effective in preventing the disease.
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