SOUTH KINGSTOWN - Nearly 90 percent of all Lyme disease cases have been reported in the Northeastern part of the United States according to the state Department of Health and with May being the time the ticks start taking their first bite, South County Hospital is hoping to do something about it.
The South County Hospital’s Lyme Disease Clinic, opened Fridays, has employed a team of dedicated doctors that determine whether a patient has the disease and who treat patients with long term symptoms of Lyme disease. Since its inception September 2009, the clinic has treated at least 250 patients. To visit the clinic, a patient needs physician referral.
“We’d like to see everyone cured and aware of prevention. We want to be put out of business,” Leo Dery, a volunteer at the clinic said.
South County Hospital first created the clinic after one of the two physicians at the clinic, Dr. Fred Silverblatt, an infectious disease doctor and professor at Brown Medical School began to notice the lack of treatment for patients with Lyme disease.
“I started to notice a lot of patients that were having treatments I felt were substandard for Lyme disease. There’s a lot of misunderstanding of Lyme disease. Many doctors have trouble interpreting tests and make a wrong diagnosis,” Silverblatt said. “A patient gets frustrated with having gone to other physicians and not having their problems addressed. A lot of people think they have Lyme disease, but there are other problems that cause the symptom. We try to figure out if they have Lyme disease and if not, what other conditions.”
With its outdoor attractions South County is one of the most likely places one can encounter ticks, which Dr. Silverblatt said made South County Hospital the perfect spot for a clinic.
“We’re right at the epicenter of the tick borne illness. South County Hospital should take the lead,” Silverblatt said.
According to the state Department of Health, Lyme disease is an infection caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted by ticks. The duration of tick attachment and feeding is a key factor in transmission. The illness causes a wide range of symptoms including a skin rash, fever, chills, meningitis, headache, muscle and joint pain, heart irregularities, facial paralysis, neurological disorders, and pregnancy complications. Lyme disease can be serious if it is not treated, but it is not fatal.
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