Bush was treated for Lyme disease, White House says
Action taken in 2006 after finding of rash that indicated illness
August 09, 2007|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,Sun reporter
WASHINGTON -- President Bush was treated for Lyme disease a year ago after developing a circular rash characteristic of the ailment, the White House announced yesterday.
Spread through the bite of infected ticks, the disease, if unchecked, can lead to arthritis, numbness, paralysis, fatigue and memory problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control. But when the problem is detected early, patients usually make a full recovery after a course of antibiotics, health professionals say.
"What we know about this disease is that early intervention is so much more effective than later intervention," said John P. Krick, head of epidemiology and disease control programs for the Maryland Department of Mental Health and Hygiene. A summary of Bush's current health, released with the results of his recent annual physical, said that last August a red rash with a lighter center, called erythema migrans, was "consistent with early, localized Lyme disease" and was treated "with complete resolution and without recurrence."
The White House did not disclose where Bush might have been exposed to Lyme disease.
"It's not uncommon for him to be mountain biking and receive a tick bite," said White House deputy press secretary Scott M. Stanzel. He said the incident was being disclosed now, a year after it happened, because the White House discloses the president's minor medical conditions only when it releases the annual report.
Stanzel said doctors decided not to do blood tests to determine for certain that Bush had Lyme disease because the treatment worked and he never progressed to other symptoms, the Associated Press reported.
Stanzel said the president discovered the rash - which appeared on Bush's left leg below the knee - but the spokesman would not specify the treatment Bush received, citing doctor-patient confidentiality.
An avid cyclist, Bush frequently rides on trails in Maryland, often leaving the White House on weekends for exercise at a Secret Service training facility in Beltsville or in the woods at Camp David.
The number of reported cases of Lyme disease has been rising in Maryland, which had the nation's eighth-highest incidence of the disease, with 1,235 reported cases, in 2005, the CDC said.
Since his treatment, Bush has become more vigilant about looking for the tiny deer ticks that spread the disease, Stanzel said, and he "does use bug spray and does personal tick sweeps after being outdoors."
Doctors performing the annual physical found the 61-year-old president to be in the "superior" fitness category for men his age, with a low risk of heart disease. Over the past year, Bush's weight dropped from 196 pounds to 192 pounds.
updated 12:12 p.m. EDT, Thu August 9, 2007
White House says Bush was treated for Lyme disease a year ago
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House disclosed Wednesday that President Bush was treated for Lyme disease last summer.
President Bush rides with cyclist Lance Armstrong at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. A spokesman says it's "not uncommon" for Bush to get tick bites during his bike rides
The revelation is in an annual report on Bush's health that declares him "fit for duty." It shows that he was treated last August for symptoms "consistent with early, localized Lyme disease" without any reoccurrence.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel told CNN that it is "not uncommon" for Bush to get tick bites during his frequent bike rides. Lyme disease can be transmitted through the bite of a tick that carries the disease.
He said the president noticed he had a small rash in a "localized area" of his body last summer, and his doctors treated it.
"It's been resolved," Stanzel said. "He's had no reoccurrence and no other symptoms."
Stanzel said the disclosure was not made sooner because the rash wasn't serious enough to be revealed. "This was a rash and did not impact his duties, so it's being reported now," he said. Watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta describe symptoms of Lyme disease »
During a colonoscopy last month, the president had five small growths removed from his colon, though his doctors said the growths were not cancerous.
The overall summary of the president's medical history, signed by all 11 doctors who have examined him over the past year, say he's in terrific health. Brig. Gen. Richard Tubb, the White House physician, and Dr. Kenneth Cooper, president of The Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas, Texas, oversaw the examinations.
Bush exercises six times a week, according to the report, and has an impressively low body-fat percentage of 16.6. His weight dropped four pounds from last year, down to 192.
While the president had to slightly rearrange his schedule after suffering flu-like symptoms at the Group of Eight Summit in Germany in June, the report says he has not "otherwise missed work due to illness since his last physical exam" in 2006.
CLARIFICATION TO THIS ARTICLE
An Aug. 9 article in the A-section about President Bush's Lyme disease last summer said there are no documented cases of the infection in Texas.
While both the federal government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Department of State Health Services list several hundred cases of Lyme disease in Texas over the past last decade, both agencies say that none of those cases were both laboratory-confirmed and unquestionably acquired in Texas.
In some cases, people were infected with the Lyme disease organism in another state and diagnosed in Texas. Many others had a condition called STARI that is often mistaken for Lyme disease.
Bush Apparently Had Lyme Disease
President Was Treated for Rash in 2006
By David Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 9, 2007
President Bush was treated a year ago for what appears to have been Lyme disease, the White House said yesterday in disclosing the results of his annual physical exam.
A report of the president's recent medical examination said his case had "complete resolution" and was "without recurrence" since being treated last August. The illness, an infection carried by deer ticks that is prevalent in the Northeastern United States, had not been previously revealed.
While untreated Lyme disease can cause arthritis, an abnormal heart rhythm and problems with the nervous system, those complications usually can be prevented by taking antibiotics at an early stage of the infection. The medical record did not describe the details of the president's therapy.
Up to 15 percent of people treated for Lyme disease later complain of symptoms such as fatigue and muscle pain. Whether that is a consequence of the infection is uncertain and a matter of controversy. Chronic pain and tiredness are extremely common in adults; whether people who have had Lyme disease suffer from those problems in higher numbers is unknown.
"I wouldn't expect any problem at all for the president," said Gary Wormser, chief of infectious diseases at New York Medical College and an expert on Lyme disease. "He won't be impacted by this infection in the future."
Lyme disease, named after the town in Connecticut where the first cases were identified in the 1970s, causes a rash that is often its sole manifestation. Classically it is a large reddish oval with a lighter-colored center and is often described as looking like a target.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said Bush found a rash on the front of his lower left leg and alerted White House physicians.
While the Lyme organism Borrelia burgdorferi can sometimes be isolated in the skin or bloodstream -- and antibodies to it can also eventually be detected in the blood -- laboratory testing is often not done. That is because a person with a typical rash and a history of outdoor activity will be treated for the disease, regardless of what the tests show.
Without such tests, however, it is impossible to rule out a Lyme disease look-alike called STARI as the cause of the president's illness last summer.
STARI stands for "Southern tick-associated rash illness." It also causes a target-like rash and is associated with a tick bite, but the causative organism has not been found.
STARI is common in Texas. The lone star tick is the species that transmits it. There are no documented cases of Lyme disease in the president's home state, where he spent much of last August on vacation.
"If he got it in Texas, it was undoubtedly STARI," Wormser said.
Stanzel said yesterday that he does not know when Bush's condition was diagnosed. The interval between tick bite and rash appearance in Lyme disease can be as long as 30 days. The president could have been infected with the Lyme organism in the Washington area, with the rash appearing after he left.
STARI seems to be a milder infection than Lyme disease. There is no specific test for it. It is diagnosed primarily if a patient has a Lyme-like rash and a tick bite, but no Lyme organisms or antibodies.
People with STARI almost always take the same antibiotics that are prescribed for Lyme disease. The rash goes away with treatment, as do the flu-like symptoms that sometimes accompany it.
Wormser said it is not known whether treatment of STARI is necessary. There appear to be no long-term consequences of either treated or untreated infection, he added.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2007
Bush Doc: President Fit Despite Lyme Bout
Bush Passes Annual Physical After Being Treated For Tick-Borne Infection Last Year
By Amy S Clark
- President Bush speaks to the Treasury Department in Washington, Aug. 8, 2007. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
- PHOTOSPresidency In Photos
- Images from President George W. Bush's many trips, functions and ceremonial events.
- QUIZLyme Disease
- Does every tick bite mean you're infected? Find out more by taking this quiz.
- INTERACTIVEBush Presidency
- The president's agenda, plus facts, figures, major events and key personalities.
(AP) President Bush was treated for Lyme disease last August, the White House announced Wednesday after failing to disclose the problem for nearly a year.
The treatment was revealed only when the White House on Wednesday made public all the results of Bush's annual physical exam. The disease showed up in the “past medical history” section and in the summary along with other skin conditions.
Bush was treated for what his doctors described as “early, localized Lyme disease” last August after developing the characteristic bullseye rash. The doctors said he has had no recurrence.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said the disease was not disclosed earlier because it happened after he had his last physical, on Aug. 1, 2006.
“It was a rash,” he said. “It's not uncommon for the president to have tick bites when he's out biking.”
Lyme disease is a tick-borne infection that, if left untreated, can cause arthritis and other problems. Symptoms include cognitive impairment, lethargy, joint pain, severe headaches, fever, limping, loss of appetite and fatigue. A bacterial disease, it can be eradicated with antibiotic treatment in early stages but can recur in some patients.
The president's main form of exercise and recreational activity is biking. His doctors advised him to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts and use bug spray when in risk-prone areas, such as Maine, where the president is spending a long weekend starting Thursday at his parents' summer home on the coast.
Last year's presidential physical was conducted as usual on a visit to the National Naval Medical Center in suburban Maryland. This year's took place in a series of exams at the White House starting July 17 and ending Tuesday night. The exams were not revealed until Wednesday. Doctors pronounced the 61-year-old president healthy overall.
“Doctors have determined that the president remains in superior fitness for a man his age — anybody who's seen him on the bike or out and about certainly knows that — and that he is fit for duty,” press secretary Tony Snow said.
As part of the physical, Bush had a colonoscopy last month at his Camp David, Md., mountaintop retreat. Five small growths were removed from his colon but doctors determined that none of them was cancerous.
A total of 11 doctors were involved in the exams, overseen by White House physician Richard Tubb and Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the president of The Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas. The group included skin, hearing, heart, eye, neurological and sports medicine specialists.
Each signed a statement saying that “within the scope of my specialty” he found Bush “fit for duty” with the expectation that he will remain so for the duration of his presidency — standard language used after presidential physicals.
A four-page medical summary that accompanied the brief doctors' statements said Bush remains in the “superior” fitness category for a man of his age, in the 97th percentile, thanks in part to a six-day-a-week exercise regimen.
Bush's overall cholesterol count is at a healthy level, dropping slightly to 170 from 174. There was a small drop in his high-density lipoprotein (HDL) count, or “good” cholesterol, and a smaller rise in his low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol.
The president's medical profile shows a low to very low risk of coronary artery disease. His resting pulse rate rose to 52 beats per minute from 46. Well-trained athletes typically have resting pulse rate of between 40 and 60 beats per minute.
Doctors made Bush run on a treadmill for more than 25 minutes as part of a test that evaluates the performance of his heart. His heart beat reached 184 beats per minute; no signs or symptoms of cardiovascular problems were noted.
Other information from Bush's checkup included:
The scale showed the 5-foot-11 1/2-inch Bush at 192 pounds, a four-pound reduction from 196 last year. His body fat percentage fell to 16.6 from 16.8.
The president has skin lesions consistent with sun damage, though none was treated.
Bush suffers from seasonal allergies that are controlled.
He is recovering from a sinus infection that caused fluid to build up in his ear, pain in his cheekbones and mild dizziness.
The president has had no recurrence of occasional bouts with reflux of stomach acid, and his mild high frequency hearing loss didn't get worse.
Bush smokes a cigar now and then, drinks coffee and diet sodas and takes a daily multivitamin but does not routinely take any prescription medication.
President Bush Treated for Lyme Disease Last Year
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
President Bush was successfully treated for Lyme disease nearly a year ago, the White House announced today.
The condition had never been revealed until the White House today made public the results of his annual physical exam. They said that he was treated for what they called "early, localized Lymedisease" last August after developing the characteristic bullseye rash, and that it did not recur.
Lyme disease is a common tick-borne infection that if left untreated can cause arthritis and other problems. The president's main form of exercise and recreational activity is mountain biking, which could bring him in contact with ticks.
Bush's last physical was Aug. 1, 2006, conducted as usual on a several-hours visit to theNational Naval Medical Center in suburban Maryland. From this one, which took place in a series of exams at the White House over a couple of weeks, doctors pronounced him healthy overall.
"Doctors have determined that the president remains in superior fitness for a man his age — anybody who's seen him on the bike or out and about certainly knows that — and that he is fit for duty," Snow said.
The White House did not disclose that Bush was undergoing his physical until today when they announced the results.
As part of it, Bush had a colonoscopylast month over a weekend at his Camp David, Md., mountaintop retreat. Five small growths were removed from his colon but doctors determined that none of them was cancerous.
Eleven doctors were involved in the exams, overseen by White House physician Richard Tubb and Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the president of The Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas. The group included skin, hearing, heart, eye, neurological and sports medicine specialists.
Each signed a statement saying that "within the scope of my specialty" they found Bush "fit for duty" with the expectation that he will remain so for the duration of his presidency — standard language used after presidential physicals.