Vermont Reports First Death From Rare Lyme Disease Complication

Desiree Burns
August 8, 2018

The Vermont Health Department reported that the unnamed resident died after the disease developed into Lyme carditis. "While Lyme disease is increasingly common in Vermont, Lyme carditis itself is very rare", Approximately 1 percent of all Lyme disease cases reported nationally to CDC experience Lyme carditis.

Lyme carditis, listed as the cause of nine deaths worldwide between 1985 and 2014, is extremely rare, according to CDC statistics cited in the release.

Lyme disease is spread by bites from infected blacklegged ticks and deer ticks. Other symptoms include joint pain, weakness in the limbs, and fatigue. The Pennsylvania tally, along with that of the six New England states - Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont - accounted for about 60 percent of the country's Lyme disease cases. Pennsylvania had 10,001 cases of Lyme disease in 2017, more than any other state in the nation.

Lyme carditis occurs when the bacteria gets into the heart and interferes with the way the organ regulates heartbeat. Oral antibiotics cure most cases, especially when treatment starts early, but the infection can spread beyond the site of the bite if not treated.

The new study comes just a few months after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that cases of tick-borne diseases had more than doubled over the past 13 years.

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The department released no details about the fatality, saying only that the victim was a Franklin County resident.

Levine said that while tick-borne diseases can cause serious illness, Lyme disease, including Lyme carditis, is treatable. California had 483 people with positive test results - a 194.5 percent increase from 2015.

For the new study, Quest Diagnostics analyzed the results of 6 million blood tests that doctors had ordered to diagnose Lyme disease in their patients.

The report of the resident's death comes just a week after a study from Quest Diagnostics revealed that Lyme disease has reached every state in the USA and the nation's capital.

According to CNBC, Valneva, a French company, is working on a vaccine for Lyme disease that was recently approved for fast-track by the FDA.

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