golfers at risk for lyme 
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 golfers at risk for lyme

Friday May 18 5:44 PM ET
Golfers at Risk for Lyme Disease Near the Green
By Alan Mozes

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - On a clear spring day, thousands of Americans
can be found swinging their clubs on the roughly 60,000 golf courses
throughout the US.

But at least one researcher warns that golfers who wander off the course and
into the nearby woods may put themselves at risk for Lyme disease.

``Basically, there is no risk while people are playing golf on the green;
however, the edge of the woods that surround the golf course is where they
are at risk for tick-transmitted diseases,'' said Dr. Elyes Zhioua, the
study's author.

Lyme disease, a bacterial infection carried by deer ticks, can cause rash
and flu-like symptoms. Over time, the infection can lead to more serious
problems including arthritis, brain swelling and heart abnormalities. About
15,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported in the US each year, according to
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites).

Zhioua, director of the Tick Research Lab at the University of Rhode Island
in Kingston, surveyed a number of golfing ranges around Rhode Island to
evaluate the degree of localized deer tick infestation. Rhode Island is one
of 47 states in which incidents of Lyme disease have been documented. To
date, the majority of cases have occurred in northeastern and mid-Atlantic

The survey revealed that while deer ticks were not present on open
greenways, they were in plentiful supply on the perimeters of all the
courses. Zhioua also found that one half to three quarters of ticks were
infected with the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

``The wooded area at the edge of most golf courses is the natural habitat of
deer ticks,'' Zhioua said in a prepared statement. ``And most players' shots
occasionally end up there.''

He said that insecticide alone would not solve the infestation problem and
so the best way to avoid Lyme disease is through prevention. Zhioua
recommended that golf course owners publicize the risk of straying from the
green, noting that some owners may resist advertising because it could scare
off customers.

In an interview with Reuters Health, Zhioua expressed hope that word of
mouth would increase awareness of the dangers lurking in the surrounding

``Players should be careful if they go in the woods to get their ball,''
Zhioua said in an interview. ``And in summertime people don't play with long
pants, so they have to check themselves. They simply have to be aware that
the woods surrounding the golf course are a risky area.''

Ticks can infect a person with Lyme disease through a single bite, Zhioua
explained. He said that other difficult-to-diagnose illnesses can be
transmitted the same way, as deer ticks have been found to carry a number of
different bacteria that can cause flu-like illnesses in humans.

Wed, 05 Nov 2003 07:02:54 GMT
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