Lyme Disease is a Real Threat in New York

According to a recent study, over half the ticks in the Empire State are carriers of the disease. The percentage is even higher in the Hudson River basin area.

As summer draws near, Department of Health officials have kept a close eye on tick density and infection rates. Tick density measures the gross number of ticks in an area, and infection rates keep track of Lyme disease and other Borrelia burgdorferi-related illnesses. The insects are most active during the summer, which is also when New Yorkers are outside the most.

Lyme disease was first identified in 1975. SInce then, New York has had the third-highest infection rate in the country. It is treatable with antibiotics if caught early enough. Otherwise, the consequences can be severe. Adult tick bites are responsible for about 80 percent of the Lyme cases. Officials cautioned that the Lyme-tick statistics may be understated, due to the difficulties of collecting information in the field. Nevertheless, “[p]eople can use [them] as a general yard stick to let them know there are ticks, and there are infected ticks in their particular neck of the woods,” remarked the Department of Health’s Bryon Backenson.


“It only takes one tick bite for you to get infected,” he added.


What is Lyme Disease?

Borreliosis is one of the most common serious illnesses in the country. The infection usually starts with fatigue and headache, along with a telltale rash called erythema migrans. The rash almost looks like a red target emblazoned on the skin.

At this stage, Lyme disease is usually curable with just a few rounds of simple antibiotics. But if the infection spreads to the joints, nervous system, and heart, it is much more difficult to eradicate.

Lyme disease almost never goes away on its own. If the flu-lke symptoms dissipate and you do not have neurological symptoms, you may still have the disease. It’s always important to see a doctor straightaway and keep going even if you feel 100 percent better.

Tick bites are about the only way to contract lyme disease. So, it is fairly easy to protect yourself and your family before you go outdoors:

  • Search for ticks outside every day,
  • Always wear repellent,
  • Shower shortly after coming indoors, and
  • See a doctor is you develop any kind of rash.

To keep the tick population down, always clear leaves and brush. If you have a woodpile, keep it in the sun.


Lyme Disease Misdiagnosis

When you see the doctor for a rash or flu-like symptoms, be sure you say that you got sick after you went outdoors. Do not hesitate to add, if it’s true, that you did not take some basic tick bite precautions. Without this information, the doctor may not diagnose Lyme disease.

There are more diagnosis difficulties to deal with. Over 50 percent of patients do not get the aforementioned telltale rash. Furthermore, the Lyme disease blood test is only effective in about a third of the cases. Without any medical evidence, the doctor will almost certainly diagnose something other than Lyme disease.

Given just fatigue, pain, and sleeplessness, the doctor could diagnose almost anything. The list of conditions includes:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome,
  • Lupus,
  • Fibromyalgia,
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis, and
  • Multiple Sclerosis.

Since Lyme disease progresses so quickly in some cases, even a slight delay could cause a serious injury. Noted English rugby player Matt Dawson had to undergo emergency heart surgery because of Lyme disease misdiagnosis. Several U.S. actors, including Alec Baldwin, Kirstie Alley, and Mark Ruffalo, have undergone similar sagas recently.


Tick Bites, Lyme Disease, and Negligence

Tiny ticks are clearly a latent (hidden) danger. Therefore, if you are on someone else’s property even as a licensee, the property owner may be responsible for your medical bills and other damages if you get Lyme disease. Owners have a duty to warn licensees about the latent dangers on their property. A licensee is someone who has permission to be on the land but does not confer a benefit on the owner.

Property owners have an even higher duty of care towards invitees (permission and benefit). In these situations, the owner must ensure that the premises are reasonably safe for everyone.

The doctor-patient bond is even higher. Doctors have a fiduciary relationship towards their patients. So, they are clearly responsible for injury related to delayed or incorrect diagnosis.

A simple tick bite can cause serious injury, so it’s important to protect yourself. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.