Take part in fighting Lyme

Once, Lyme disease was just something that happened to other people, something we’d hear about now and then, something discussed on public radio, but not something about which we needed to worry.

That’s what we thought.

The truth is, we should have been worrying about Lyme disease decades ago. That we finally are concerned is heartening.

As is our chance, locally, to help two families afflicted with it and that chance comes on Saturday, Sept. 27, in the second annual Lois’ Race Against Lyme 5K that will be held at Mine Falls Park in Nashua. The race will benefit Lois Johnson and her family, and Dick and Polly Brown. Both families are from Amherst.

Johnson developed Lyme two years ago; the Browns both have it. The race is to raise money to help the families pay for ongoing treatment because insurance often doesn’t cover long-term treatment.

Part of the problem here in New Hampshire is that we are a woods and meadows state and it is in such areas that the ticks that infect us with Lyme can thrive. There are, of course, ways to avoid getting it. Here are some approaches from the website of the Mayo Clinic:

? Avoid areas where deer ticks live, especially wooded, bushy areas with long grass.

? Wear long pants and long sleeves and tuck your pants into your socks.

? Use insect repellents.

? Clear brush and leaves from your yard and keep woodpiles in sunny areas.

Even if you take common-sense approaches, though, a tick could still find you. Here, again from Mayo, are signs to watch for:

? A rash featuring a small, red bump at the site of a tick bite. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re infected but if the rash expands into a bull’s eye pattern with a red outer ring surrounding a clear area, call the doctor.

? Flu-like symptoms could accompany the rash.

Those are early warning signs. Later signs can include:

? Joint pain that could include swelling, especially in the knees.

? Neurological problems that could arise even years after you’re infected and could include temporary paralysis of one side of your face, numbness or weakness in the limbs and impaired muscle movement.

A key is to take tick bites seriously, even though, Mayo says, “only a minority of deer tick bites lead to Lyme disease.” See a doctor if you are even slightly concerned.

This is a serious problem as Lois Johnson and the Browns could tell you. You have a chance to help them, and learn more about Lyme, by participating in this race. For information, email loisrace againstlyme@gmail.com, or visit Facebook and enter loisraceagainstlyme.