HealthWatch: Lyme Disease

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — The Tri-State Area is a hot spot for Lyme disease, yet many sufferers go undiagnosed. CBS 2HD’s Dr. Holly Phillips brings us one young woman who struggled for nearly a decade and is now finally fighting back.

Rose K. Murphy, 35, can recall the day she now believes she was infected with Lyme disease. “I thought it was the flu, so I just stayed home and rested. About two months later I started having wrist problems.”

For nearly eight years she went undiagnosed, and her wrist problems got worse, She developed pain throughout her body and one day she just couldn’t function anymore.

“I was at work and I collapsed. And within two and three weeks I couldn’t move my legs and I couldn’t stand up,” she said.

Dr. Jeffrey Morrison is a Lyme disease expert. He said although Murphy’s case seemed severe, he’s seeing more and more patients in her predicament.

“Lyme disease is probably the most rapidly growing vector born illness in the United States. There’s at least 30,000 new cases reported for Lyme disease every year,” Morrison said.

The disease is transmitted when a person is bitten by a deer tick. Some people get a tell-tale bullseye rash right away and can get treated immediately, but many don’t.

Lyme disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose. That’s because its symptoms mimic many other illnesses. And although a tick bite is a great clue of the diagnosis, most Lyme sufferers can’t remember ever being bitten.

“Ticks are not easy to see on our body. They’re very small and they actually look like freckles so it’s easy for them to disguise themselves,” Morrison said.

Spring and summer are common times for people to get bitten, and now during the fall, Lyme sufferers may start to feel symptoms including achy joints, severe fatigue, memory loss and headaches.

Murphy wishes she had recognized the signs earlier. “I was really depressed between, I had gone from working a lot and having a job I love to not being able to get out of bed.”

Now she’s on the road to recovery. She gets IV antibiotics four days a week, and doesn’t want anyone else to go through what she did.

“Take it seriously when you have physical problems,” she said. “Find out what they are.”

A better understanding of this serious illness could go a long way. Lyme disease can be diagnosed by a blood test, but some doctors only provide treatment based on symptoms, even if the blood tests come back negative.

  • Nina In New York: Scientists Want Us To Quit Our Jobs, Go Become Farmers. Thanks, Scientists. « Nina In New York: Scientists Want Us To Quit Our Jobs, Go Become Farmers. Thanks, Scientists. « CBS New York

    […] According to a new study from a Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic, sitting will be the death of us all. Yes, that’s right. Sitting. In a chair. On a sofa. Behind a desk. Wherever you tend to sit, do yourself a favor and stop it. Go do something safer, like taking a walk. Oh wait, there’s all that pesky secondhand smoke and car exhaust. They say that’ll kill ya. On second thought, go to the gym. Hang on, you could get a potentially lethal and definitely disgusting staph infection or pick up some other revolting bacteria. Best to get out of the city and take a nice hike out in the fresh air. Just be sure to check for ticks, because recently doctors have begun warning against some dread new illness that makes you wish you had Lyme disease. […]

  • Hudson Valley Sees Increase In Cases Of Tick-Borne Disease Babesiosis; Doctors Say Don't Panic « CBS New York

    […] is caused by a parasite from the same ticks that spread Lyme disease, but unlike Lyme disease, there is no bull’s-eye rash to identify […]

  • Mary Jean Hughes

    Anyone who knows anything about the controversy surrounding Lyme disease treatment knows that plenty of credentialed, mainstream researchers and clinicians strongly reject the CDC and IDSA diagnosis treatment guidelines, and for good reason. Long term IV and oral antibotic treatment is absolutely appropriate treatment for chronic Lyme disease, and considerably less risky than many other unquestioned therapies for diseases which are not as debilitating as Lyme. Portraying the growing numbers of clinicians on the front lines of this epidemic who are successfully treating their patients with long-term antibiotics as “alternative” in an attempt to marginalize them is the real disservice here. There is a double-standard that applies to Lyme. Nobody had a problem with pushing immune suppressant drugs on me when I was diagnosed with sero-negative rheumatoid arthritis. Now that I have had a positive Lyme test, I am met with skepticism from any medical professional other than the doctor who is treating me (with long-term multiple antibiotics, yes). They seem to think it is more likely that a married middle-aged woman who lives in a rural area and has been bitten numerous times by deer ticks,might have HIV or syphillis. I know of at least seven people on my road alone who have had or still have Lyme, including my husband (twice) and daughter. The ones lucky enough to have had the “classic bulls-eye rash” get treated early and get better. The rest of us get shunted from specialist to specialist. Those of us lucky enough to find a physician versed in antibiotic therapy slowly get better.The others continue to suffer.

  • Constance Santangelo

    The physician featured in the article on Lyme Disease is an alternative medicine doctor. It appears that the patient is receiving intravenous antibiotics on a long term intermittent basis, the so-called “Pulse Therapy” which can leave the patient with an overwhelming antibiotic resistant infection. Pulse Therapy is an inappropriate therapy for Lyme disease. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), have specific guidelines for testing for Lyme Disease, interpreting test results and treatment of Lyme Disease and “Pulse Therapy” is inappropriate treatment.

    Patients should seek the advice of their family physician who will provide a referral to an Infectious Disease physician, if test results indicate a possible Lyme Disease infection. Viewing this particular article with its emphasis on alternative medicine doctors who treatment sero-negative patients is a dis-service to CBS viewers

  • Karen M

    My Lyme disease went undiagnosed for many years. By the time someone thought to test me for Lyme, I had been having migraines for years, had ever-increasing joint pain, and had reached a point where I had so much fatigue I was sleeping at least 15 hours a day. After almost a year of treatment. I am still very ill. I have no idea whether or not some of my symptoms will be permanent. We need more research and more care plan participation by mainstream physicians. It is difficult and expensive to seek treatment.

    • Nomi

      Karen, if you’re being treated with conventional means — anti-biotics — and after a year you are still very ill, you may want to consider a naturopath. A naturopath who specializes in treating Lyme disease save me when convention medicine could not.

  • Mike Ragogna: From New York to Heligoland: Conversations With … – New York Post and #39;s iPad edition requires payments – Lost Remote – HealthWatch: Lyme Disease « CBS New York – News, Sports, Weather … – and m

    […] Lyme disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose. That”s because its symptoms mimic many other illnesses. And although a tick bite is a great clue of the diagnosis, most Lyme sufferers can”t remember ever being bitten. visit. […]

blog comments powered by Disqus
Giving Tuesday
Charles Osgood Event

Listen Live