Thursday 30 August 2012

Medical & News: Tick & Lyme Disease

Tick from Italy?? (Came out from a parcel from Italy)
Image from Locky's English Playground
In the same episode of House as mentioned in the entry Medical: How To Use a EpiPen, the girl who was played by actress Michelle Trachtenberg was found to be poisoned by a tick. Few days ago, a parcel from Italy came and when I opened it, a tick came out!!! Illegal immigrant!!! It was immediately caught and flushed down the toilet of course (sigh... I hate killing), and this is a photo taken before its swim.

But what if this is not just an individual case? What if actually, little ticky has a whole family in living inside the cargo from Italy and now they have successfully found root in Hong Kong?

If you have been reading US version of Google's Health News, you are surely not a stranger to the term Lyme Disease.

Ixodes scapularis, the primary vector of Lyme disease
in eastern North America
-- Image and Caption from Wikipedia
In short, a certain kind of bacteria belonging to the genus Borrelia get passed onto the host amid a tick bite, causing possible headache, fever, fatigue, depression, and a characteristic circular skin rash called erythema migrans (EM) in human, or a bullseye rash, while the tick itself happily detach itself after sucking a belly-full of blood and is rested for months before making another bite.

Common bullseye rash pattern associated with Lyme disease
-- Image and Caption from Wikipedia
Lyme disease is a treatable tick-borne disease, and like many other treatable disease, the earlier the better, but that's not all of the story.

Tick bite can also bring about parasitic co-infections, such as babesiosis and human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA). The following video explains a case of the former.

Told you that Monsters Inside Me is a great TV programme!

Lyme disease can also afflict dogs, with the retrievers particularly prone to it. According to Washington Post,
Retrievers seem prone to Lyme disease in the States
Image from Washington Post

"With its bull’s-eye rash, achy joints and flulike symptoms, Lyme is a concern for humans. Most dogs exposed to the disease show no signs of infection and recover on their own. But a small percentage run fevers, become lame, lose their appetite or, in rare instances, die. And some of America’s favorite breeds — golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers — seem to be particularly at risk."

According to sources from Wikipedia, Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in North America and Europe, and one of the fastest-growing infectious diseases in the United States.

Countries with reported Lyme disease cases.
-- Image and Caption from Wikipedia
In Hong Kong, Lyme disease is rare (if not yet to be reported). The Centre for Health Protection under the Department of Health in Hong Kong discussed this issue in March 2012 in a casual manner as far as I can tell from their scope of advice, but seeing a tick like that coming out from a parcel makes me feel sooner or later, we'll be hearing it.

If you are buying products from overseas, check them carefully. If you have dogs, do check their fur after every walk in the bushes and woods. As a tick can attach to its host for more than 72 hours (Sood SK, Salzman MB, Johnson BJ, et al., 1997), if a dog really has a tick attached to it, you will most likely be able to find it.

Take good care of yourself and your lovely doggies!

For other entries about Monsters Inside Me, do visit Medical Vocabulary: Medical Words from House M.D. Food, Dining & TV: Sushi, Sashimi & Monsters Inside Me .

tick -- (n)[C] [C] a very small creature like an insect which lives on and sucks the blood of other animals
-borne -- suffix carried or moved by a particular thing
parasitic -- (adj)  (also parasiticalcaused by or connected with a parasite
co-infection --(n)[C] In parasitology, coinfection (/ˌkoʊɪnˈfɛkʃən/) is the simultaneous infection of a host by multiple pathogen species. In virology, coinfection includes simultaneous infection of a single cell by two or more virus particles.
afflict -- (vb) [T] If a problem or illness afflicts a person or thing, they suffer from it
lame -- (adj) (especially of animals) not able to walk correctly because of physical injury to or weakness in the legs or feet

Medical: How To Use a EpiPen @ Locky's English Playground

Lyme Disease @ Wikipedia

Parasite Infiltrates Bloodstream @ YouTube

Lyme disease can afflict dogs as well as humans @ Washington Post

Duration of tick attachment as a predictor of the risk of Lyme disease in an area in which Lyme disease is endemic -- Sood SK, Salzman MB, Johnson BJ, Happ CM, Feig K, Carmody L, Rubin LG, Hilton E, Piesman J @ PubMed

Medical Vocabulary: Medical Words from House M.D. @ Locky's English Playground

Food, Dining & TV: Sushi, Sashimi & Monsters Inside Me @ Locky's English Playground