What Causes Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria that is spread to humans by tick bites. The ticks that carry the spirochete are:
Black-legged deer tick
Western black-legged tick
Ticks prefer to live in wooded areas, low-growing grasslands, and yards. Not all ticks carry the Lyme disease bacteria. Depending on the location, anywhere from less than 1% to more than 50% of the ticks are infected with it.
While most tick bites are harmless, several species can cause life-threatening diseases. Tick-borne diseases include:
Rocky Mountain spotted fever
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease By Stages
There are three stages of Lyme disease, which are outlined below.
Stage 1 Early Localized Disease
- Occurs one to 30 days after a tick bite
- characteristic skin rash of Lyme disease
- migrating red rash with bullseye appearance occurring at or near the site of the tick bite
- asymptomatic or itches orburns
- develops around seven days after the tick bite
- rash expands over a matter of days
- an untreated rash may persist for two to three weeks
Stage 3 Late Disease
Stage 3 Lyme disease occurs months to years after the initial infection or a period of latency. Most patients presenting with the late disease do not have erythema migrans because the rash urges the patient to seek treatment earlier.
Symptoms of Stage 3 Lyme Disease may include the following:
- Skin manifestation:
- Acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans: found almost exclusively in patients of European descent. It commonly affects older women with bluish-red discoloration on the back of the hands, feet, knees, and elbows.
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What Is Lyme Disease And How Does It Infect Dogs
This infectious condition of the blood vessels can affect almost any species of mammal, although it is most common in dogs. Lyme disease is a condition caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. In humans, symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash.
Lyme disease cannot penetrate the skin, so your dog will become infected after contact with a tick carrying Borrelia burgdorferi, the pathogens that cause Lyme disease. Each year,an estimated 30,000 cases are reported to the Center for Disease Control, though the actual number of infected people is thought to be much higher.
While Lyme disease can be debilitating in humans and animals, its also highly treatable. The sooner you can spot the symptoms of Lyme disease in your dog, the better chance you have of getting them back on their feet quickly. If left untreated, Lyme disease can wreak havoc on your dogs body and cause irreparable organ damage.
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Stage : Early Disseminated Lyme Disease
Early disseminated Lyme disease occurs several weeks to months after the tick bite.
Youll have a general feeling of being unwell, and a rash may appear in areas other than the tick bite.
This stage of the disease is primarily characterized by evidence of systemic infection, which means infection has spread throughout the body, including to other organs.
Symptoms can include:
- disturbances in heart rhythm, which can be caused by Lyme carditis
- neurologic conditions, such as numbness, tingling, facial and cranial nerve palsies, and meningitis
The symptoms of stages 1 and 2 can overlap.
Who Is At Risk
Many occupations may be at risk, including forestry, farming, veterinarians, construction, landscaping, ground keepers, park or wildlife management, and anyone who either works outside or has contact with animals that may carry ticks
Similarly, any person who spends a lot time outdoors , especially in grassy or wooded areas may also be at risk.
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What If A Tick Bites My Dog
The more ticks in your region, the likelier it is that your furry pal will bring them home.
Your dog is much more likely to be bitten by a tick than you are. And where Lyme disease is common, up to 25% of dogs have had it at some point.
About 10% of dogs with Lyme disease will get sick. 7-21 days after a tick bite, your dog might seem like theyâre walking on eggshells. They also might have a fever and enlarged lymph nodes. Plus, they might seem tired. Dogs also get antibiotics for Lyme.
What if my dog brings ticks into my home?
Use a tick control product on your pet to prevent Lyme disease. Also, have your dog vaccinated against Lyme.
Check your dogâs whole body each day for bumps. If you notice a swollen area, see if thereâs a tick there. If you find a tick, wear gloves while you use tweezers to separate it from your dog. Then, put it in soapy water or alcohol, or flush it down the toilet.
Use alcohol to clean the spot on your dog where the tick was attached. Keep an eye on that spot, and also on your dog to make sure theyâre behaving normally. If you notice any changes, check with your vet.
John Aucott, MD, assistant professor of medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine director, Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center.
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: âVital Signs: Trends in Reported Vectorborne Disease Cases — United States and Territories, 2004-2016.â
American College of Rheumatology.
How Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented
In areas where ticks are found, people should know about the risk of Lyme disease and should take precautions to protect themselves. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease so it can be detected and treated promptly. PHAC states that removing ticks within 24 to 36 hours after the tick bite usually prevents infection.
PHAC has also prepared a Lyme disease tool kit which provides material to raise awareness and educate.
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What Are The Symptoms
Within 1-2 weeks of being infected, most people will have a bulls-eye rash at the site where the tick was attached, fever, headache, and muscle or joint pain. Some people have a fever and flu-like symptoms without a rash. If the bacteria spreads people could experience other symptoms such as pain that moves from joint to joint, rashes on other parts of the body, or inflammation of the heart or nerves. If the disease is not treated some patients can get additional symptoms such as swelling and pain in joints or mental changes months after being infected.
When Will I Know I Am Cured Of Lyme Disease How Long Does Lyme Disease Last
Patients treated with antibiotics in the early stages usually recover fairly quickly with no neurological or cardiac problems. A few individuals may go on to develop post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome in which patients after an appropriate course of antibiotics still have lingering symptoms of fatigue, pain, joint, and muscle aches for up to about six months after antibiotics have been administered. The cause of the syndrome has not been identified, but some researchers think it may be due to a combination of immune responses and residual damage to cells. However, patients adequately treated with antibiotics no longer have the causative bacteria in their system during this syndrome, and this syndrome does not need to be treated with additional antibiotics.
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Is Lyme Disease Contagious
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi when the bite of an infected tick transfers the bacterium to humans during the tick’s blood meal. Lyme disease typically cause fever, headache, fatigue, and often shows a characteristic skin rash that looks like a bull’s-eye target . The disease can spread to the joints, heart, and the nervous system. Other mammals can be infected by tick bites. However, direct human-to-human, animal-to-animal and transmission between humans and animals does not occur. Only if a tick bites an infected person or animal, becomes infected, and then bites another human or animal, can the disease be transferred.
Living With Lyme Disease
When did you receive your diagnosis for Lyme disease?
Even though the diagnosis is definitive, the symptoms began long before my diagnosis. I was bitten in July 2006 which is 12 years ago, basically I have been sick since then.
In the run up to my diagnosis I seemed to always be run down with minor infections. I always had swollen glands, and I was genuinely in the doctor’s office every two weeks taking antibiotics. The doctors general attitude towards my recurrent illnesses was You have a weak immune system, you just seem to pick these things up.
In 2011, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia by my doctor. Fibromyalgia is actually a symptom of Lyme disease.
What was the first thing that went through your head when you received your diagnosis?
I know it sounds strange but I was completely relieved. I was so sick for such a long time.
I am a proactive person, not just with my health but with everything. I did every single thing that I was recommended to do. At the time I had no control over how my body felt so I did everything I needed to do to make it better.
I lived, knowing that there was something more sinister happening, it just made made no sense to me that I was experiencing this much pain without a solid explanation.
I respect medical professionals but your gut knows. You just know that theres something more. I got no feedback from my body when I was trying out different methods to feel better, so when I received my diagnosis of Lyme disease, I wasnt scared.
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How Will I Know If I Have Lyme Disease
Usually, a reddish expanding rash begins about three to 30 days after an infected tick bite. This rash occurs in about 70%-80% of individuals who become infected and spreads to about 12 inches in diameter and often forms a “bull’s-eye” pattern on the skin. The rash may appear on other parts of the body also and may not form the “bull’s-eye” pattern. Other symptoms and signs that may come and go and are considered later signs are as follows:
- Bell’s palsy
- Additional rash formation
- Pain and swelling of the joints
- Shooting pains that may interfere with sleep
- Short-term memory problems
- Inflammation of the brain and/or spinal cord
Some individuals are not sure they have been bitten by a tick these individuals who develop any of the symptoms above can be tested to see if they have evidence of Lyme disease. The testing should be done by their physician and the results must be carefully interpreted since the immunoassay tests for Lyme disease may sometimes give equivocal results. However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed a two-tiered immunoassay testing system for Lyme disease that is reasonably reliable.
Chronic Lyme Disease Vs Post
Patients typically use the term chronic Lyme disease to describe the cluster of symptoms that started after getting Lyme disease and that persist despite having received a course of antibiotic treatment which has been deemed curative by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Patients say, âIâm not cured. I have symptoms now that I never had before Lyme disease. Iâm fatigued 90% of the day. My muscles ache. My brain is in a fog. I canât think clearly any more. Iâm super sensitive to light and sound. What is going on? Chronic Lyme disease does exist â Iâm a living example of it!â
Whatever one calls it, the experience is the same. Most often these patients experience profound fatigue, pain, and/or cognitive impairment. Mild to moderate levels of depression and anxiety may also accompany these symptoms, as the functional limitations can lead to social isolation, inability to work, and loss of sense of oneâs identity as a provider, caretaker, or friend. Sometimes patients find themselves identifying with Job â the just and good man in the Bible whose life was wrecked by illness, death of loved ones, and economic disaster he felt tormented by God.
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Diagnosis Of Lyme Disease
Many cases of Lyme disease are initially misdiagnosed. Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose because early symptoms of fever, severe fatigue, and achiness are also common in many other illnesses. In addition, diagnostic blood tests are not always dependable, particularly in early disease. However, the round expanding red lesion rash is a unique sign that is more specific for Lyme disease, and many times a diagnosis can be made based on the tell-tale erythema migrans rash itself. Yet, it is important to understand that the erythema migrans rash is not always present or recognizable, and symptoms can fluctuate.
Think the Lyme disease rash is always a bulls-eye? Think again.Think its a spider bite? Think again. Please refer to our poster of varied rash manifestations as a helpful Lyme disease rash identification tool.
Recognizing the Lyme disease erythema migrans rash can be crucial to early diagnosis and treatment.
Despite common belief, the stereotypical ring within a ring bullseye rash is only present in a minority of Lyme disease patients. Instead, the majority of Lyme disease rashes are uniformly red or blue-red and do not have a central clearing or bullseye. Sometimes the site of the tick bite is clearly visible in the center of this lesion. The erythema migrans rash is almost always round or oval and expands over days to a diameter greater than 2. The Lyme rash is often confused with a spider bite, despite spider bites not expanding in this way.
When Should I Call The Doctor
If a tick bites you, call your doctor. Other conditions can cause similar symptoms, so it’s always a good idea to discuss them with your doctor. That way you can get checked and treated, if needed. Call right away if you get a red-ringed rash, lasting flu-like symptoms, joint pain or a swollen joint, or facial paralysis.
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The Igenex Lyme Immunoblot Solves These Problems
IGeneX has developed a serological test that increases specificity without sacrificing sensitivity that has changed how to test for Lyme disease. It uses specifically created recombinant proteins from multiple species and strains of Lyme borreliae and reduces inconsistencies in reading and interpreting the test bands.
More species detected The Lyme ImmunoBlot tests for more species of Lyme borreliae than the traditional ELISA and Western blot tests, reducing the risks of false negatives due to the inability to detect antibodies to a certain strain or species of Lb. The test includes all Borrelia-specific antigens relevant in North America and Europe, not just B. burgdorferi B31 or 297.
The result is a single test that replaces at least 8 Western blots.
More accurate testing The ImmunoBlot uses specific recombinant proteins that are sprayed in precise amounts onto specific locations on the membrane strip, allowing for greater control of the quantity and location of the antigens. This makes reading the bands much more accurate and consistent.
Earlier detection The ImmunoBlot can detect infections at multiple stages of illness, letting you catch infections earlier.
The IgM and IgG ImmunoBlots superior specificity and sensitivity make them the best Lyme disease test available.
The Committees Discussion Of The Evidence
1.8.1. Interpreting the evidence
220.127.116.11. The outcomes that matter most
The key outcome of interest was a transmission risk, incidence orprevalence estimate of Lyme disease through verticaltransmission, sexual transmission or transmission through bloodproducts. Transmission risk was defined as the number ofeffective contacts per unit of time divided by the total number ofcontacts between infectious and susceptible individuals per timeunit. In the absence of studies reporting a transmission risk,incidence or prevalence estimate, any observational studyexcluding case reports reporting a person-to-person transmissionwas included in this review.
No evidence was found for transmission of Lyme disease throughsexual contact or blood products. For vertical transmission onlycohort studies, case-control studies and case seriesreporting
18.104.22.168. The quality of the evidence
Indirect evidence came from 11 studies reporting outcomes relatedto vertical transmission. Quality assessment of the individualstudies was carried out according to an adapted version of TheJoanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal Checklist for StudiesReporting Prevalence and Incidence Data. Although none of theincluded studies reported incidence or prevalence data, theJoanna Briggs Institute checklist was chosen because of the typeof evidence identified for this review.
22.214.171.124. Benefits and harms
1.8.2. Cost effectiveness and resource use
1.8.3. Other factors the committee took into account
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The Chance Of Getting Lyme Disease
Not all ticks in England carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
But it’s still important to be aware of ticks and to safely remove them as soon as possible, just in case.
Ticks that may cause Lyme disease are found all over the UK, but high-risk places include grassy and wooded areas in southern and northern England and the Scottish Highlands.
Ticks are tiny spider-like creatures that live in woods, areas with long grass, and sometimes in urban parks and gardens. They’re found all over the UK.
Ticks do not jump or fly. They attach to the skin of animals or humans that brush past them.
Once a tick bites into the skin, it feeds on blood for a few days before dropping off.
How To Diagnose Lyme Disease
The diagnosis of Lyme disease is not easy. Infection-carrying ticks are fewer in number, and their bites are usually not painful. This makes it difficult for the patients to recollect being bitten by the ticks. Furthermore, most of the symptoms are shared by different disorders.
- If you locate a tick in your skin, you should remove it immediately with tweezers making sure the entire tick is extracted.
- Wait a few days to see if any symptoms appear. If they do, you must contact your primary care physician and discuss your symptoms.
- Seek immediate medical attention if you have been ill for four weeks or longer. The doctor will examine the bite, search for a rash, and order blood tests to determine the presence of Lyme disease.
Special testing may be required for those who have joint swelling or nervous system disorders. The doctor may need to draw fluid from the swollen joint or the spine to look for signs of the illness.
However, these are not always required to make a diagnosis. They frequently produce false findings, particularly in early-stage Lyme disease.
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