Lyme Disease Impels Parker Posey to Pull Out of Play

Actress Parker Posey, 40, has withdrawn from a lead role in the upcoming off-Broadway production of “This” after developing Lyme disease. Posey is known for her many indie movie roles in films such as Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, Clockwatchers, as well as for playing Lex Luthor’s assistant Kitty Kowalski in Superman Returns.

Lyme Disease is an infection caused by a spiral shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. It is a germ picked up by ticks that feed on the blood of infected mice or deer. A person bitten by an infected tick can become infected themselves. Not everyone who gets bitten will go on to have Lyme Disease, and many people who develop Lyme Disease never realize they’ve been bitten by a tick. Early signs of infection are similar to flu symptoms- fever with chills, aches, headache, and listlessness. There may also be a target-like rash, known as erythema migrans. If left untreated,  additional symptoms such as joint inflammation, neck stiffness, whole body itchiness, or unusual behavior can occur. Later symptoms also include nervous system involvement such as confusion, numbness and tingling, hallucinations, or Bell’s Palsy (one sided facial weakness with drooping of the eyelid). Heart palpitations and chronic arthritis (joint pain and inflammation) can also occur. Treatment consists of antibiotics, usually for a one month period. Pain medications, and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen may be added to treat joint symptoms.

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Erythema migrans -- Relative size of deer ticks that cause Lyme Disease

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Ways to decrease the risk of Lyme Disease:

  • Use an insect repellent containing 20 to 30 percent DEET. ApplyDEET sparingly to skin according to directions on the label. Don’tapply it to the face and hands of children and don’t use it oninfants younger than 2 months of age.
  • After you spend time outdoors, check your skin and scalp carefully for ticks and rashes. Check yourpets for ticks too (dogs can get Lyme disease too!)

If you find a tick:

  • Don’t panic. Using a pair of fine-tippedtweezers, grasp the tick body as close to your skin as possible.Pull in a steady upward motion until the tick comes out. Trynot to squeeze or twist the tick body. Apply an antiseptic to the bitearea and wash your hands with soap and water.
  • After the tick is removed, watch the bite area and the rest of yourskin over the few months. If you get a rash, see your doctor. Only people who get sick and/or get a rash after being bitten by a tick need antibiotics. If you are bitten by a tick and don’t get sick or get a rash, you don’t need antibiotics.
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Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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