Health & Diet

Lyme Disease: Symptoms And Treatment

Deer Tick, Female (Ixodes scapularis)Photo by wackybadger

Lyme disease is a type of infectious disease which is caused by the bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato.

This bacteria is transmitted to humans by a tick bite from an infected black-legged tick and the tick is infected after feeding on infected mice or deer.

In order to transmit the infection, the tick has to be present on the skin from 24 to 48 hours. Usually most people don’t have a memory of a tick bite.

This infection was first reported in 1975, in a small town called Old Lyme (Connecticut). Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness in the Europe, the Pacific Northwest, and Northern Midwest United States. People who spend time in wooded areas are more likely to get Lyme disease.

Causes

The bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi is the cause of Lyme disease in the United States, which is carried mostly by deer ticks. These ticks are brown and they are usually no bigger than the head of a pin when young, which can make them almost impossible to spot. In order to contract Lyme disease, a person has to be bitten by an infected deer tick.

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First the bacteria enter your skin through the bite of deer tick and then make their way into your bloodstream. In order to transmit Lyme disease, a deer tick has to be attached to a person for 24 to 48 hours. In case you discover an attached tick which looks swollen, chances are that it fed long enough to transmit bacteria. However, keep in mind that removing the tick as soon as possible can prevent infection.

Symptoms

The symptoms of Lyme disease can vary and often affect more than one system. The nervous system joints and skin are usually most affected.

The early symptoms of this infection can occur within a month after you have been infected. They include:

Rash: A small, red bump can appear at place where you have been bitten. However, this small bump is normal after the bite and doesn’t indicate the infection. But over the next several days the redness can expand and form a rash in a bull’s-eye pattern in combination with a red outer ring which surrounds a clear area. This rash, also known as erythema migrans, is one of the hallmarks of this infection.

Flu-like symptoms: Chills, body aches, fatigue, fever and a headache can accompany the rash.

In case of some people, the rash can spread to other parts of the body and, a few weeks to months after a person has been infected, he or she can experience:

Joint pain: Person can develop bouts of severe joint swelling and pain. His or her knees are particularly likely to be affected, but the can may shift from one joint to another.

Neurological problems: A few weeks, months or ever years after a person has been infected, he or she can experience temporary paralysis of one side of your face, inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain, impaired muscle movement and weakness or numbness in your limbs.

Treatment

The best results in treating Lyme disease are achieved in the early stages. Early treatment is very simple and it consists of two to three weeks course of oral antibiotics.

This treatment can eliminate every trace of infection. Some of the medications which are used to treat this infection are cefuroxime and amoxicillin (for treating adults, women who are nursing or breast feeding and younger children) and doxycycline (for children who are 8 years old or older and adults).

Intravenous antibiotics are used in order to treat persistent Lyme disease for a period of two to three weeks. This will eliminate the infection, but symptoms’ improvement happens more slowly. It is still unknown why symptoms such as joint pain continue after the bacteria is destroyed.

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