28 June 2005

Willy Burgdorfer

Willy Burgdorfer, PhD - the man who discovered the nasty little bacteria that causes Lyme disease. It was originally known as Burgdorferism, but the Federal Disease Naming Commission of the National Institute for Health ruled that only single consonants could be used for diseases discovered after 1976.

Noooo... I'm just kidding ya' - Willy did indeed discover the bacterium, but there's no such Federal office and the disease has always been known as Lyme disease, named for Lyme, CT.

So, why tell you all of this? Well, this time of year folks do get out into the woods, parks, and grassy areas and you just need to be aware of it. Here's some steps to take to protect yourself.

Lyme disease is caused by an organism called Borrelia burgdorfer, a bacterium that is often found in deer ticks. Since deer ticks tend to be prevalent in woodlands, wear protective clothing such as light colored, long-sleeved shirts, and tuck your pants into your socks when hiking in these areas. Always perform a "tick check" and immediately wash your body after spending time in the woods or tall grass.

In addition, keep an eye out for anything unusual on your skin, especially a rash in concentric rings, like a bull's-eye. If you have any symptoms such as rashes, fever or joint pain, consult a doctor who is knowledgeable about diagnosing and treating Lyme disease - the typical treatment is with antibiotics. Left untreated, about two-thirds of people with Lyme disease develop recurring bouts of arthritis, sometimes years after the infection.

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