HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - A Hutchinson man with Lyme disease says he's trying to raise awareness about the tick-borne illness that has left him unable to work.
Andy Green was bitten by a tick in 2009 while in Arkansas. The bite developed into a red, baseball-sized circular rash on his forearm, but he assumed it was a spider bite and forgot about it after it cleared up.
He later learned he had been bitten by a tick carrying the Lyme disease, which has left him unable to work at his assembly line job, The Hutchinson News reported (http://bit.ly/MRvUcQ).
Green said he wishes he had known at the time that he could have been treated successfully if he had been diagnosed and given antibiotics in the first few weeks. But because he didn't realize what the rash was, his illness became chronic.
Green got some temporary relief from antibiotics after he was diagnosed. Since then he has been dealing with extreme fatigue, chronic pain, and neurological symptoms such as a brain fog, confusion and changes in his ability to walk. Recently he started having uncontrollable tremors.
"These are becoming more severe as time goes on and along with fatigue and pain are making it difficult to work," he said.
Miranda Steele, communications director for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said two cases of Lyme disease have been confirmed in Kansas this year. The three-year median in Kansas from 2007 to 2009 was 16 cases, she said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there are several stages of the disease. The first is "early localized," which occurs three to 30 days after the tick bite. There will be a rash that gradually expands over several days and can reach up to 12 inches wide. There may also be fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. Some people get the general symptoms and the rash, while others just get the symptoms.
The CDC reports that left untreated, the infection may spread from the site of the bite to other parts of the body, producing symptoms including the rash, severe headache and neck stiffness, pain and swelling in joints. Lack of treatment can lead to a later stage that can last for years. Symptoms at this stage include severe joint pain, fatigue, and problems with short-term memory.
Finally there is the post-treatment Lyme disease such as Green's, in which symptoms can last for years after treatment.
Green's wife, Rachel Green, said the family has struggled to get appropriate medical care. She said her husband has an appointment in September with a specialist in Columbia, Mo., whose primary focus is patients like her husband.
"It's a real fight to get proper treatment," Rachel Green said. "Lyme-literate doctors are difficult to find."
Before then, they have begun gluten-free, sugar-free eating which focuses on fruits, vegetables and herbs to help his immune system and hopefully reduce Green's pain.
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