Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lyme Meningitis

My mother got Lyme Meningitis and I wanted to write about it as it is not something usually associated with Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease is a problem that is unfortunately increasing as deer populations grow and people settle further into areas of high deer population.

In my mother's case, it started with a cluster migraine. She was treated for the migraine however it didn't go away and got worse eventually shifting from one side of her head to the other. At this point it was so bad, she said it was like stabbing pains in her head, she ended up going to the emergency room. The Doctors immediately suspected Meningitis and gave her antibiotics. Upon an inspection of her skin they found the telltale bullseye rash indicative of being bitten by a tick carrying Lyme Disease. IV therapy of antibiotics were started, she stayed in the hospital for four days before she was ready to go home with a  PICC in her arm to allow her to continue the IV antibiotics at home for the next 4 weeks. A PICC line is an intravenous catheter that is inserted in a vein in the arm going into the heart that is used for long term IV therapy.

Things to know about Lyme Meningitis-
  • Unlike Meningitis, it's not contagious, you need to be bitten from a tick carrying this specific strain of Lyme that affects the nervous system.
  • Lyme Meningitis is treated by IV antibiotics for a course of 4 weeks. Regular Lyme Disease is usually treated for 2 weeks. I will maintain that each person is an individual who may present differently, so treatment times and protocols are best determined by your Doctor. 
  • The incidence of Lyme Meningitis is lower than the incidence of Lyme Disease.
The best thing you can do is try to prevent being exposed to ticks that may carry Lyme Disease. Keep grass around the house mowed and avoid high grasses. Wear clothing that is lighter to better spot any ticks. Use repellants with DEET on skin and clothing. Tuck pants into socks. If you need to walk in an area that may have ticks do a clothing and skin check to remove any stray ticks that hitched a ride on your body. If you find a tick that is attached remove it with a pair of tweezers close to your skin, do not try to set it on fire.  If a deer tick is fully engorged or you see a bullseye rash see your Doctor to get treatment.


Deer ticks are much smaller than regular ticks. Some websites that have good pictures of ticks are:
http://www.lymenet.org/pictures.shtml
http://www.oes.org/html/how_2_identify_different_ticks.html

For more information on Lyme Disease check out these websites:
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/330178-overview
http://medicine.ucsf.edu/education/resed/Chiefs_cover_sheets/neurolyme.pdf

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