Medicine: Big Trouble with Tiny Ticks

Physicians on six continents puzzle over Lyme disease

Call it the Great Impostor. Like rheumatoid arthritis, it painfully inflames knees and ankles. Sometimes it masquerades as heart disease, provoking arrhythmias so severe that a pacemaker may be required. It can strike the brain, inciting blinding headaches, memory lapses and even chronic depression. Muscular coordination can become so shaky that doctors suspect multiple sclerosis. Walt Dabney, 41, of Herndon, Va., suffered for more than two years with many of these symptoms and ran up $4,000 in medical bills before his problem was correctly diagnosed: he had Lyme disease, a bacterial infection spread by ticks. Says Dabney, chief ranger for the...

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