Can Appalachian Trail Hikers Identify Lyme Disease?

WMSWilderness & Environmental Medicine is the "official journal" of The Wilderness Medical Society (WMS). An article co-authored by four researchers and published by the WMS on January 15, 2014, says their research "suggests that [Appalachian Trail] hikers are poorly able to recognize the characteristic exanthem of Lyme disease but have a high exposure risk."

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by blacklegged tick bites. Typical symptoms of Lyme disease include: fever, fatigue, headaches and a particular skin rash known as "erythema migrans."

CDC Illustration of Lyme Disease

CDC Illustration of Lyme Disease

The study says, "The characteristic exanthem of erythema migrans (EM) should be a trigger for seeking medical treatment, and its recognition in this relatively isolated environment is important." If I understand correctly, that means knowledge of the symptoms of Lyme disease -- an "eruptive" disease, such as measles -- is vital to prompt treatment and recovery.

Research was conducted at three locations "at or proximate" to the Appalachian Trail from June 2011 to May 2012 by four individuals who showed pictures of EM/Lyme disease to 379 respondents. The study says 54% correctly identified photographs of what WMS terms "the most common vector-borne infectious disease in North America."

If left untreated, this infection can spread to your joints, heart and the nervous system. Learn the symptoms and check often for Lyme disease on the Appalachian Trail.

Click Here for the WMS Article on Lyme Disease & AT Hikers

Click Here for Lyme Disease Info from the Center for Disease Control

Tags: Appalachian Trail, Hiking, and News

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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