Lyme Disease Is Present and Growing in Calaveras County and the Western Sierra Nevada Mountains

One of my local friends has just told me that a member of her family from Calaveras County believes he has chronic Lyme disease. He had a tick bite several years ago, started antibiotics 2 days after the bite (his doctor only had him on antibiotics for less than a month, in spite of continued symptoms and a bull’s eye rash), and has not felt himself since then. He lost 20 pounds very early on, and attributed it to the antibiotics.

Ever since that time, he has had regular aches and pains, stomach issues, recurring rashes, night sweats, breathing difficulties, chest pain, and fatigue. This is Lyme disease that has been improperly treated. In addition, the night sweats and breathing issues point to babesiosis, and the rashes (which sometimes resemble scratch marks) point to bartonella, two common co-infections.

Before I contracted Lyme disease, I had not heard of its presence in Calaveras County (including the surrounding counties, such as Amador, where we live), and the Western Sierra Nevada mountains. Once you’ve dealt with Lyme disease firsthand, however, it seems to crop up everywhere. Mention it to friends or people you meet, and they’ll often tell a story of someone they know who has had it, or who is suffering from Chronic Lyme disease. Worse yet, as in the case of my friend’s family member, you’ll often hear about people who were treated for a month or less, and then told they were cured, but who continue to have symptoms of unexplained fatigue and pains, even years after their treatment.

 

Park Ranger Jordan Smith: Lyme Disease in the Western Sierra Nevadas

If you have not yet seen the Lyme disease documentary, “Under Our Skin,” I recommend watching it. The documentary provides a concise overview of the debilitating nature of Lyme disease, as well as the confounding controversy that plagues the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. “Under Our Skin” is often available free on Hulu.com, and sometimes on YouTube.com. At the writing of this blog post, it is available free at this location: (click to view the documentary).

Part of the movie focuses on Jordan Smith, a park ranger who was bitten in the Western Sierra Nevadas in 1998. He later developed a bull’s eye rash, but his doctors, and even the park ranger service, failed him. Several doctors did not recognize his symptoms (one even prescribed Prozac, attributing Smith’s debilitating fatigue to unconscious depression). The ranger academy itself had never discussed the possibility of Lyme disease (and co-infections) with Smith, in spite of the fact that from 4% to 11% of ticks carry Lyme disease in the park where he was working (view reference here – that number is likely more elevated now), and regardless of the fact that park rangers have a higher level of exposure to ticks than do people in most occupations. You can read Jordan’s Smith’s story here, and a more updated account of his treatment is available here.

 

Lyme Disease in Gold Country

Although California makes very few official reports of Lyme disease each year [thanks to the lack of Lyme disease awareness among the medical community, as well as the paradoxical surveillance criteria set by the Centers for Disease Control (view the current criteria here)] it’s easy to learn of many people via the Internet who were infected with Lyme disease in the Gold Country region of the state:

 

Find a Lyme-Literate Doctor (LLMD) Near You

If you suspect that you or someone you know may have Lyme disease, it is imperative that you (or they) seek treatment from a doctor who is experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease. Click here for my post about finding an LLMD.