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Lyme disease is on the rise in Florida, but experts donít know why

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  • Lyme disease is on the rise in Florida, but experts donít know why

    Source: https://www.tampabay.com/news/health...-why_170717097



    Lyme disease is on the rise in Florida, but experts donít know why
    Justine Griffin
    Published: August 8, 2018
    Updated: August 9, 2018 at 11:37 AM

    When Jackie Dube found circular rashes with bullseye points on her stomach, she went to the hospital. Doctors told her she had an allergic reaction to flea bites.

    A year later, she became seriously ill. Flu-like symptoms and chronic joint pain would continue on and off for years until sheíd eventually be diagnosed with Lyme disease. More than a decade after her misdiagnosis, the 37-year-old Pinellas Park resident says she suffers "flair ups" from Lyme disease annually.

    "In the beginning, doctors told me it was psychosomatic, that all of this was in my head," Dube said. "After years of hearing that, but dealing with my eyes swollen shut, a dislocated jaw and shoulder, fistulas in my thighs, I was finally tested for Lyme and was positive."

    Dube is one of a growing number of Floridians who suffer from Lyme disease, part of a nationwide increase that has researchers stumped.

    Historically concentrated in New England, the disease has mostly been a seasonal issue in warmer months when ticks are prevalent in wooded areas. But data collected by Quest Diagnostics, a national clinical laboratory, found increasing Lyme disease cases in all 50 states, with a significant rise in places like California and Florida. Until recently, those two large states have never been associated with high rates of the disease.

    "As things get warmer, one would think that the ticks would migrate more north, to Canada, not necessarily to Florida," said Dr. Harvey Kaufman, senior medical director at Quest. "Weíre seeing a rise in cases in Canada and in Florida, but with Florida weíve got to think of a reason other than climate change."


    While the number of diagnoses in Florida is comparatively small, the steep increase in cases has triggered some concern. Last year, according to Quest, 501 cases of Lyme disease were reported in the state ó triple the number five years ago and a spike of 77 percent since 2015.

    About 30,000 cases nationwide are documented each year by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, but the agency admits many go unreported...

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