Karen Hausfeld ei tiedä milloin sairastui borrelioosiin sillä hän ei muista nähnensä punkin puremaa tms. Diagnoosin hän sai vasta viime tammikuussa. Tätä ennen hän oli saanut lukuisia erilaisia diagnooseja kuten fibromyalgia. Hänelle oli myös tehty useita nivelleikkauksia. Hän tuntee itsensä 103- eikä 43-vuotiaaksi. Karenin pojan Tonin raajat tuntuivat halvaantuvan kaksi vuotta sitten borrelioosin vuoksi. Silti vasta-ainetestit olivat negatiiviset.
17-vuotias Zach Pittinger sairastui 10 vuotta sitten borrelioosiin. Hän sai lyhyen antibioottihoidon, mutta oireet palasivat. Koulunkäynti vaikeutui oireiden vuoksi ja lopulta Zack meni psykoosiin ja hänet laitettiin psykiatriseen hoitoon. Lopulta hän tarvitsi kokopäiväistä huolenpitoa. Viimein hän sai 8 viikon suonensisäisen antibioottihoidon ja hänen tilansa parani niin paljon että hän kykeni jatkamaan opintojaan. Myös Margarite on saanut saman hoidon ja voi nyt paljon paremmin.
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Lyme disease: Facing Loudoun's silent epidemic
By Brittany Boyd
Margarite d'Arsinoe awoke to the feeling of a rough tongue licking her face, her body curled up under a blanket of snow.
"I looked up and saw the night sky and a cow with horns," she recalled of that night during the blizzard of 2003.
Earlier, Margarite had fainted while carrying a bucket of water to the paddock on her 3-acre farm near Middleburg. The icy water spilled all over her body. She would have frozen to death, if not for her cow Deliverance.
Margarite, 51, fainted because of Lyme disease, a bacterial infection transmitted by the bite of an infected deer tick no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence.
If detected early, Lyme can be treated successfully with oral antibiotics. If left untreated, the long-term effects can be deadly.
Many individuals with Lyme in Loudoun County are going untreated - sometimes for years -- because the disease remains difficult to diagnose.
Most doctors look for a tick bite and the characteristic "bull's-eye" rash. However, many Lyme victims don't recall being bitten, and the rash may never develop. Or, it may be hidden somewhere like under the hairline.
Diagnosis is also difficult because Lyme symptoms, including fatigue and joint pain, aren't conclusive. And the traditional blood tests can be inaccurate.
"Western blot tests can produce false negatives," said Dr. Leila Zackrison, a Fairfax-based Lyme specialist and rheumatologist. "It still misses people; it's just a big mess."
Increasingly, Loudouners are learning firsthand the seriousness of the disease. Lyme is considered an epidemic in Loudoun, and entire families are being plagued around the county.
Near Waterford, June and Jeff Oresik, and their two children -- Emily, 14, and Justin, 17 - all have Lyme.
June said after making some phone calls she came up with the names of 35 people who have the disease, including 10 who live almost exactly in a row on Hamilton Station Road, where the Oresiks live.
In the Lovettsville area, each member of the Hausfeld family -- Tim, 45, Karen, 43, Christina, 21, Tony, 19, and Kelley, 15 -- either has Lyme or is believed to have it.
Karen Hausfeld went more than a decade before being diagnosed in January. Now, she can no longer work or keep up with household chores. During the night, she has full-body tremors and can't sleep.
"This thing is going to get me. I know that," she said. "In the meantime, I'm not going to let it make me a prisoner in my own house. I still have to live, and I have to set an example for my children."
Karen believes she contracted the disease while living in Ashburn, but she doesn't remember being bitten by a tick or seeing a rash. Doctors tested for Lyme more than once, but the results were consistently negative.
Doctors told her she had everything from fibromyalgia to Bell's palsy. She's had numerous surgeries to repair connective joint tissue.
"I've had surgery after surgery after surgery," she said. "I feel like I'm 103, instead of 43."
Karen's son, Tony, felt his entire body suddenly become paralyzed two summers ago due to Lyme. He went into a week-long coma before taking three months of rehabilitation to learn again how to talk, walk and take care of himself. He tested negative for Lyme until last January.
In another corner of Loudoun off Hillsboro Road, 17-year-old Zach Pittinger has Lyme disease, and his father, Jeff, might also have it.
Zach spends most of his time with his mother in Beltsville, Md., but he may have contracted Lyme in Loudoun.
He was diagnosed about 10 years ago and took a few weeks of oral antibiotics. Soon afterward, the disease either came back or he was reinfected.
Every six to eight weeks throughout much of Zach's childhood and adolescence, he came down with flu-like symptoms; as a result he missed a lot of school.
Last summer, Zach's mental health took a turn for the worse. "I'd have so many thoughts, I'd write things down on pieces of paper and stick them all over my room," he said.
On Sept. 15, 2005, Zach had a psychotic episode that landed him in Sheppard Pratt, a mental institution in Maryland, for two weeks.
"I thought my mom and dad were literally attacking me," he said. "Here are the people you trust your whole life, and they turn on you. It was like something out of a sci-fi movie."
A few months later, Zach moved from Maryland to Loudoun to be with his father, who worked from home because Zach needed full-time care.
In June, Zach completed an aggressive eight-week treatment of intravenous antibiotics administered via PIC line, or a peripherally inserted central catheter. The PIC line pumps high doses of antibiotics straight to the heart through a vein in the upper arm. He said he's feeling better.
Zach completed his junior year of high school through an alternative half-day program at Douglass School in Leesburg. He's back in Beltsville with his mother and hopes to graduate on time next year in Maryland.
Meanwhile, Margarite d'Arsinoe recently completed an eight-week antibiotic PIC line treatment at the new outpatient infusion clinic at Inova Loudoun Hospital.
"I'm here to say this has saved my life," she said. "I'm going to be the Erin Brockovich of Lyme. I have a voice."
The federal government is currently recruiting individuals for Lyme disease clinical trials in Maryland, California and abroad. For information, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov .
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