Lyme disease concerns health officials

By Linda Liang

Although few cases of Lyme disease, a potentially fatal illness, have been found at NIU, its effects are still a concern for health officials.

Lyme disease is an illness contracted from the bite of an infected “deer” tick found in more than 40 states, including Wisconsin and Minnesota, according to an American Red Cross flier.

University Health Service Director Rosemary Lane, said in the past 11 years there have been about two or three reported Lyme disease cases at NIU. She said all of these cases recovered.

The ticks can be found around beaches and in wooded or grassy areas, the flier said.

“Exposure to forest areas” is dangerous for people, Lane said, “camping in Wisconsin is a risk factor.”

obert Oregon, Lorado Taft Field Campus director, said NIU students visiting Lorado Taft in Oregon are aware of Lyme disease prevention and precaution.

Medical data is stored with a nurse on duty about each student who attends Lorado Taft, Oregon said. “Everyone is well aware of the prevention,” he said.

“People working with students are aware of Lyme disease through education, prevention and monitoring,” workers are trying to make Lorado Taft a safe place, Oregon said. “I think that’s very important.”

The first sign of infection, a rash, appears within a few days to a few weeks after a tick bite, the flier said. The rash develops where the victim was bitten and swells five to seven inches, the flier said. The rash appears reddish in fair-skinned people or bruise-like in dark-skinned people.

Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, sore throat, weakness and joint and muscle pain, similar to flu conditions, according to the flier.

More advanced stages of Lyme disease include arthritis, numbness, memory loss, problems in seeing or hearing, high fever or a stiff neck.

Some of these symptoms might indicate brain or nervous system disorders, according to the flier.

Lane said to cure Lyme disease, patients undergo skin surgery to remove the tick’s germ and the surrounding infected area. Antibiotics like Amoxicillin and Erythromycin also are used for treatment, she said.

The flier said complete recovery from Lyme disease is likely.

The disease was first observed in 1975 in children with arthritis living in Old Lyme, Conn.