By Dina bas Tirtza
“Whoever saves a life of Israel, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” If you had the opportunity to save a life, would you not grab the opportunity? It is incumbent upon every parent who sends their child to overnight camp, to take a stand that can save the life of a child, perhaps their own.
Overnight camp takes place in the country, where ticks are rampant. Most people who receive tick bites will never know about it and standard testing is only 50% accurate, plus symptoms may only occur months after a bite. In 2015, about 400,000 new cases of diagnosed Lyme occurred in the USA, in addition to the assortment of other infections each tick can transmit.
According to the CDC, this number accounts for only ten percent of all Lyme cases in the USA. The number is growing rapidly and this author spoke with a doctor in Brooklyn, who shared that this past summer, the numbers of patients affected by lyme and coinfections in his practice, was unprecedented.
Askanim in other communities have encouraged doctors to become more educated about lyme and treatment options. It would be a very positive development if our dedicated community doctors would provide local testing and treatment options after continued education.
One bite from a deer tick can transmit one or more of the following infections, diagnosed clinically and confirmed by specialized testing: Lyme, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, Tularemia, Ehrlichiosis, Bartonellosis, Borrelia miyamotoi, Tick paralysis, and Powassan virus. These infections can lead to neurologic, cardiac, arthritis and psychiatric manifestations in humans, and even death. The myth that a bulls eye rash and a 24 hour period is needed for infection to occur is simply untrue.
Dr. Rosalie Greenberg, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, author and researcher, who specializes in bipolar disorder and treats a variety of psychiatric illnesses, found that three-quarters of her patients have tick-borne infections like mycoplasma pneumonia. A study on nih.gov found that a case series of children seen in a lyme disease clinic developed memory impairment, irritability, behavioral changes, declining school performance, headaches or fatigue.
Another alarming study on nih.gov found that “Lyme and associated diseases contributed to suicidality and sometimes homicidality, in individuals who were not suicidal before infection…. symptoms developing after acquiring Lyme and associated diseases, in particular, explosive anger, intrusive images, sudden mood swings, paranoia, dissociative episodes, hallucinations, disinhibition, panic disorder, rapid cycling bipolar, depersonalization, social anxiety disorder, substance abuse, hypervigilance, generalized anxiety disorder, genital-urinary symptoms, chronic pain, anhedonia, depression, low frustration tolerance, and posttraumatic stress disorder.”
This author spent several years on a journey to attempt psychiatric and psychological assistance for her children, spent tens of thousands of dollars on standard mainstream therapy and therapists and finally uncovered Lyme and associated diseases as the cause of our journey.
A journey that began in bungalow colonies and overnight camps. The lapse in treatment time, because of well-meaning therapists, educators, and even doctors who lack the knowledge to refer children to appropriate medical interventions, results in devastation on a physical and emotional level.
This plague, largely undiagnosed in our community, certainly contributes to the large number of our children who are suffering from mental health difficulties.
It is time for our overnight camps and bungalow colonies to spray the grounds before our children arrive, to spray several times throughout the summer, and to make sure that children have sprayed themselves with tick repellents before going on any hikes or playing outdoors. This step may initially cost some money, but will save parents thousands of dollars on future treatment.
I implore parents to speak up, to call the heads of the camps, to speak with those running your bungalow colonies, and to beg them to spray for ticks. Chai for Lyme, an organization dedicated to helping those diagnosed with lyme or associated infections, can help with referrals. Their number is 347 927 6198. Please do not delay and please do make this a priority, as one parent to another.