News stories about the Zika virus affecting pregnant women in Florida, or precautions Olympic athletes had to take in Rio de Janeiro to prevent Zika from spreading further, intrigue us. It’s no surprise, given that Zika has been declared to be a “global health security threat” for some time now.
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- What may be more alarming is that Lyme disease is also on the rise. What was once seen as a disease only found in regions with high populations of infected deer ticks is now affecting more patients than those being diagnosed with breast or colon cancer.
- Following are six other facts we are learning about Zika and Lyme that show common similarities between the two – and that may be a little unnerving.
Both have recently been called epidemics.
- Within the last few years, the Zika virus and Lyme disease have seen more of a widespread impact, enough for the World Health Organization to predict millions of cases of Zika in the next few years and for medical professionals to declare on national news that Lyme disease is one of the top-spreading epidemics in the country. Despite this, many in the medical community argue about the legitimacy of the Lyme epidemic since there is not a clear set of guidelinesfor treating and diagnosing Lyme, while the global threat of Zika has been generally accepted.
Zika and Lyme are both vector-borne.
- The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes species of mosquitoes, while Lyme bacteria are transmitted by infected deer or blacklegged ticks. Since such species are more prevalent in certain areas, if we don’t live in those areas we often feel safer. Yet again, these are both epidemics, finding new ways to spread other than through these original hosts. Lyme expert Dr. Richard Horowitz believes part of the reason for this greater spread of Lyme is that infected deer ticks no longer live only on deer, but on mice, foxes and birds.
Research is showing Zika and Lyme may be transmitted through sexual intercourse.
- Recent tests are proving that these seemingly only vector-borne diseases and viruses are also spreading by other means, including sex. Not all cases of Zika or Lyme show they are being transmitted through sex, but increasing numbers do indicate an alarming connection. Research is underway to find out if the risk of transmitting Zika or Lyme is greater through sex or via mosquitoes or ticks.
If a pregnant woman is affected with Zika or Lyme, she can pass it to her baby during pregnancy.
- One of the biggest concerns with Zika is newborn microcephaly, a complication in pregnancies that can result in deformities and/or disabilities for the child. Pregnant women with Lyme also have a cause for concern, with new studies showing cases of stillborn babies in mothers carrying Lyme.
The two have similar symptoms.
- Zika and Lyme both have symptoms common in other diseases, including fever, muscle and joint pain, and a rash. Lyme has even been called “The Great Imitator,” as it so closely mimics other diseases and is difficult to diagnose.
Their symptoms don’t always appear at first.
- In some cases, these or other symptoms don’t even appear when a patient is first infected with Zika or Lyme, making both even harder to diagnose if the patient does not recall a mosquito or tick bite.
- The statistics may be frightening, but knowing what can be done will help alleviate some of the distress surrounding the Zika virus and Lyme disease outbreaks. Seek experts in the medical field if you think you may have been infected with Zika or Lyme. If you have felt chronically ill, it may be the result of later symptoms of Lyme disease only now showing up. Seek help and go in for a free consultation at Life Health Centers, which houses experts in Lyme disease, to help you get back on your feet.