For many, the summer months are a time for hikes in the woods, gardening in the yard and playing at parks. While activities in the outdoors are a great way to relax, have fun and get exercise, they also expose adventurers to deer ticks that carry infectious diseases such as Lyme.
Gonzalo Bearman, M.D., is a professor of medicine and chair of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. During a Twitter chat, Bearman answered questions about the diseases carried by ticks in Virginia, how to diagnose tick-borne illnesses, treatment options that patients can expect and more.
VCU will host a variety of Twitter chats with medical experts in the coming months. Stay engaged with the conversation by following @VCUMedical on Twitter and searching for the hashtag #VCUHealthChat.
Below are Bearman’s replies to some of the questions raised on Twitter.
What are the important diseases carried by ticks in Virginia?
Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Ehrlichia.
How is the diagnosis of Lyme disease made?
The diagnosis is made by clinical symptoms and blood work-serology (Lyme test) by a board-certified infectious disease specialist. Test results should be interpreted using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s criteria for Lyme disease.
Is the treatment of Lyme disease curative?
Antibiotic treatment for Lyme is curative; however, a post-Lyme syndrome does exist. Post-Lyme syndrome is associated with fatigue and even joint aches; however, ongoing infection is not the cause.
Is there such a thing as chronic Lyme disease?
This is controversial. The infectious disease field does not subscribe to chronic, persistent infection following standard treatment.
Are long-term antibiotics needed for the treatment of Lyme disease?
Long-term antibiotics — greater than four to six weeks — are not needed for the management of Lyme disease.