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Health Team

Locals start Lyme disease awareness organization

Posted May 10, 2010 5:40 p.m. EDT
Updated May 10, 2010 6:35 p.m. EDT

— Two years ago, pilot Dave Tierney was on a crusade to convince state health experts that, in addition to diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease was also a real threat.

Tierney said he was misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis and received injections to suppress his immune system.

“But with Lyme disease, you want to boost the immune system,” he said.

His symptoms only grew worse until he was diagnosed and received antibiotics for Lyme disease.

Tierney joined Pam Davis in starting the organization Carolina Lyme because she had a similar experience with her youngest son.

“Had I known in 2004 what I know today, the choices we would have made concerning his health care would have been vastly different,” Davis said.

In March, Wake County was declared endemic for Lyme disease because two cases were confirmed to originate in the county. Advocates hope the news will help doctors to consider Lyme disease when patients come in with certain symptoms.

About 70 percent of patients have a circular bulls-eye rash where they were bitten. They also might be suffering from flu-like symptoms, fatigue, dizziness and joint pain.

There is a test for the disease, but it might not appear positive until four to six weeks after the bite.

“So if you have a rash, you want to start antibiotics. You don't want to wait for a positive test,” Tierney said.

Preventing any tick-borne illness is the best medicine, Tierney said. People should do regular tick checks, wear protective clothing and use tick repellent.

The Carolina Lyme organization is holding an information event on Wednesday night at the Lincoln Theater in downtown Raleigh.