Dr. Wayne L. Klein, PHD

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Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease is a preventable threat to you and your children. When untreated, it can lead to serious neurological complications. The solution is the restore the balance of nature by thinning the deer herd. Current deer densities are too high.

The Lyme Disease incidence is increasing, having more than doubled between 1992 and 2006. With high human and deer populations in Eastern Massachusetts, we are at especially high risk. Explore this section to see the action that must be taken to reduce the risk to your family, your neighbors and the environment. The typical advice is to check for deer ticks and protect yourself from deer ticks. This is an important stop-gap measure until we take charge and fix the problem. Please note - I am not a hunter. There is evidence that dramatically thinnning the deer population eradicates Lyme Disease.

The same tiny insect can also carry human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA) which casues flu-like symptoms, and also babesiosis, a sometimes fatal illness. These can all be identified by blood tests.

As stated above, the standard advice is to check for deer ticks after being outdoors. However, deer ticks are sometimes no bigger than the head of a pin and are easily overlooked, which is why many people suffering from Lyme disease never see a tick. The results can be disastrous.The later stage of Lyme Disease involves the brain and nervous system. Most people, if treated in time, recover, but three studies indicate that Post-Lyme Disease Syndrome is untreatable, lifelong and tragic. Others dispute this. The long-term use of antibiotics to treat later-stage Lyme Disease and to treat Post-Lyme Disease Syndrome is controversial.

It is clear that some people suffer neurological symptoms months to years after infection.

I have done neuropsychological assessments on adolescents and adults with lifelong cognitive deficits from Lyme Disease.The brain damage can affect vision, sleep, memory, attention and concentration.There can be nerve damage resulting in pain, numbness and paralysis of the facial muscles (10% of cases). Joint problems, especially of the knee are seen in over 50% of cases. About 5% of untreated Lyme Disease cases develop cardiac involvement.

The prevention strategy needs to be much more than merely checking for ticks (which you may not see) and using insecticides (which are not great for you). Lyme Disease is the result of an ecological imbalance. The deer population has skyrocked along with the tick population and righting the imbalance is key, a fact recognized by the Audubon Society. Probably because Lyme Disease was first recognized in Lyme Connecticut, the people of that state are ahead of the curve in taking action to eradicate this disease. We can only reduce or perhaps even eliminate the risk of Lyme Disease by demanding action from our elected officials.

Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket have especially high deer populations as well as especially high rates of Lyme Disease. In 2009, the most recent year for which data is available as of this writing, in Massachusetts, Frammingham ranked 3rd in total number of cases and Franklin 4th.

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HealthWayne Klein