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Hunting deer won't eradicate Lyme

Each Tuesday and Thursday through the end of February, the sound of sharpshooters hunting white-tailed deer will echo through the neighborhoods of suburban New Jersey. The deer overpopulate, eat the trees, and pose a traffic hazard. They also spread Lyme disease.

Intelligent management of the deer population is necessary for many reasons. However, it isn't prudent to assume that by killing the deer we can eradicate the spread of Lyme. Preventing the spread of Lyme disease, which is believed to be caused by the bite of a Ixode tick, is more complex than getting rid of the deer. While it's true that deer make excellent hosts, roaming and foraging in the brush where ticks are likely to be waiting for a ride, it is also a fact that even if the deer population was to altogether disappear, ticks would continue to survive simply by looking elsewhere for their immediate needs.

Birds, mice, and other rodents make a perfectly acceptable meal ticket for the lowly tick, who isn't picky. A tiny tick can only move within a limited space: about a nine foot range. Ticks generally occupy a space from the ground up to about three feet, clinging to grasses and brush, which is why it is important to wear protective clothing and use caution when you walk or hike through forested areas. They are intent on finding a host who can give them what they need to survive, and any convenient warm-blooded animal who ventures close enough to offer a ride and a hot supper will do. It doesn't need to be a deer.

lyme disease and fatigue

Do you get enough sleep? Or are you like so many people, getting by on just a few hours of shut-eye and rushing to begin your daily activities directly after the alarm goes off. In a sleep-deprived culture, surrounded by colleagues and friends who are running on coffee and bagels, it can be hard to tell when your level of fatigue is simply status quo, or if it's crossed the line to become a genuine symptom of Lyme. The garden-variety droop that comes with a busy life and a few nights of deprivation is generally a temporary problem. You can catch up and revitalize your adrenal glands with a couple of deep-sleep nights and a daytime nap or two.

On the other hand, bone-crushing fatigue, the kind that is symptomatic of Lyme, is hard to ignore. Your activities are limited because you just don't have the energy. You go to work, come home, fall asleep on the couch while waiting for dinner to cook itself. You go to bed early and try to sleep in till the last minute, but you don't wake up refreshed. You can't catch up. In fact, even after a good night's rest it can feel as if you hadn't slept a wink. You can't wash your face or tie your shoes without sitting down. In many cases, you may not even be able to hang on to your job, unless you're lucky enough to work from home.

Since that sort of fatigue is associated with a number of illnesses, including chronic fatigue syndrome or CFIDs, fibromyalgia, mononucleosis, and Lyme disease, medical testing is imperative to help you and your doctor ascertain why you are so tired. The tricky nature of the Lyme bug can make it difficult to eliminate Lyme as a possibility, even if you test negative. Your best bet is to find a doctor who is experienced in detecting Lyme disease symptoms, so that your overwhelming fatigue doesn't get ignored and written off as simple exhaustion.

Medical pro explains link between protein and healing

You know it's important to eat protein, but do you know why?

According to Jean Reist, R.N., one good reason to get sufficient amounts of protein in your diet while you're healing from Lyme is to keep your lymph system working effectively. The lymph, or lymphatic system, is a major part of the body's immune system. Protein is necessary for transporting trace minerals through what is known as the extracellular matrix within the lymph system. Imagine the matrix as the white of an egg that's just been cracked open. You don't want it to congeal, as an egg white does in a hot pan, because it would get clogged up with toxins. You want your matrix to stay loose, efficiently transporting nutrients to the cells, and transporting that toxic waste away.

Vegans and vegetarians often eat soy products to boost their protein intake. Yet Reist, who treats Lyme patients in her Pennsylvania clinic, worries that the patients who eat soy may risk getting too much copper in their diets. Soy is high in copper, and evidence suggests that patients trying to heal from Lyme must also get rid of an overload of metals, including copper, mercury, lead and aluminum. She asks her patients to consider eating animal protein such as eggs, fish or whey while fighting Lyme.

Reist observes that vegetarian patients sometimes eat a lot of pasta and grain, which may be easy to prepare, but are high in carbohydrates. She says that for Lyme patients, loading up on pasta and grain instead of protein is not a good idea, for many reasons. For example, the grains wash away magnesium, and she says that Lyme patients tend to have a magnesium deficiency. In addition, carbohydrates drive inflammation, and as you probably are already aware, a big part of overcoming Lyme is fighting the accompanying chronic inflammation.

Jean Reist, R.N., participated in our ongoing expert audio interview series, which is available online for LDRD members.

DOH wants your Lyme story

Want to tell the Pennsylvania Department of Health about your personal experiences with Lyme disease treatment? The Lyme Disease Task Force wants to hear from you. Linda Wales, co-leader of Lyme patient rights group NYPenn Lyme Disease Support Group, posted this letter to the editor of the this morning:

Task force seeks input on Lyme disease
January 4, 2008

It is time for Lyme disease patients to be heard.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health established a Commonwealth Lyme Disease Task Force in 2007 to examine issues and draft recommendations regarding Lyme disease. It was decided feedback from Lyme disease patients is needed. NYPenn Lyme Disease Support Group received notification this task force will host a public hearing from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Keystone Building, Hearing Room 1, on Forster Street and Commonwealth Avenue in Harrisburg, Pa. Everyone is welcome; there will be question-and- answer sessions.

They recognize how important it is to receive a wide range of feedback and realize it would be impossible for many Lyme sufferers to attend. Therefore, letters explaining experiences with tick-borne diseases will be accepted through Jan. 31.

Please send to Dr. James Rankin, Pennsylvania Department of Health, Room 933, 7th and Forster Street, Harrisburg, PA 17120 or fax to (717) 772-6975.

Questions may be directed to Dr. James Rankin by telephone at (717) 787-3350.

Lyme disease is quickly becoming a serious health problem in Pennsylvania (and nationally). If you choose to remain silent or think you need to do nothing because someone else will, the Department of Health could believe it is no big deal and may drop the issue.

Linda Wales
Co-leader, NYPenn LDSG
Millerton, PA