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Lyme Disease Benches FSU Football Quarterback

Experts Discuss Lyme Disease Symptoms

continued...

Rarely, heart problems, such as abnormalities in heart rhythms, inflammation of the tissues surrounding the heart (pericarditis), or enlargement of the heart can occur.

Different View on Lyme Disease

Robert Bransfield, MD, sees lyme disease differently.

He is the associate director for Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, N.J. Bransfield also serves as an advisor to the Lyme Disease Association and is a board member of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society.

"We often see a broad spectrum of symptoms that may be aggression, irritability, depression, anxiety, cognitive impairments, joint problems, [and] other musculoskeletal problems," Bransfield tells WebMD.

"It can affect every system of the body. That's sometimes a giveaway," he says.

Like Gluckman, Bransfield can't comment on Sexton's particular case.

"You may see irritability ... that's a fairly common symptom, but higher levels of aggression are less common," says Bransfield. "You can see confusion sometimes, associative reaction ... there are many psychiatric manifestations that can occur," he says.

News reports about Sexton did not mention aggressive behavior.

Opposing Outlooks

"There's a fair amount of controversy about what constitutes Lyme," says Bransfield. "There's a group of us who particularly focus on this," he says.

Gluckman says he sees two "polar" camps on the topic, with "a lot of misunderstandings" related to diagnostic testing.

Bransfield says awareness has improved, but he'd like to see that continue -- especially about psychiatric manifestations.

"I'd like people to be reassured," says Gluckman. "It's rarely a serious illness. It should be easy to treat. I wouldn't restrict activities or lose a lot of sleep over it."

Tick Check

The doctors agree on a basic prevention method: the tick check.

The transmission of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease from an infected tick is unlikely to occur before 36 hours of tick attachment. For this reason, daily checks for ticks and promptly removing any attached tick that you find will help prevent infection, writes the CDC.

Deer ticks are very small, says Bransfield.

Ticks "may first attach on the lower part of the body and travel up until they hit an obstruction, be it the waist or elastic," he says. Also check the hairline and scalp. Embedded ticks should be removed using fine-tipped tweezers.

Good insect repellants with at least 25% DEET are also "very effective," says Gluckman.

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