What Is Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is the leading tick-borne disease in the United States. It’s most common in the Northeast, the Pacific Northwest, and the northern midwestern states.
Lyme disease is caused by a type of found in animals like mice and deer. Deer ticks that feed on these animals can then spread the bacteria to people through tick bites.
You probably won’t see it happening. Deer ticks are tiny, so it’s very hard to see them. Immature ticks are about the size of a poppy seed. Adult ticks are about the size of a sesame seed.
It’s easy to overlook a tick bite. Many people who get Lyme disease don’t remember being bitten. The good news is that most tick bites don’t lead to Lyme disease. But it still helps to know what to watch for.
Can Dogs Give Humans Lyme Disease
There is no evidence that dogs can transmit Lyme disease to humansdirectly, but you can become infected if one of their ticks latch onto your skin.
Lyme disease is spread through the bite of an infected tick, so dog owners with an infected pup are more at risk of being exposed.
While your pups Lyme disease may not be contagious, the ticks that have fed on an infected dog are always a threat.
Stage : Changing Skin
In stage 3, few signs of Lyme disease appear on the skin. Most problems occur in the heart and nervous system, and these can be serious.
Where you see signs on your skin: If you were in Europe when bit by a tick, you may see changes to your skin in this late stage. These changes usually appear on a hand or foot. Some people develop this change on both of their hands or feet. It can also occur on a knee, elbow, or elsewhere.
What the skin looks like: The skin begins to swell, and you may notice some redness. These signs are caused by having a bacterial infection for a long time. The affected skin may also feel sore.
In time, the skin starts to harden and shrink, causing deep lines to form. If you have hair in the area, it tends to fall out. The sweat glands can die, and the skin often becomes so thin that it tears easily. The medical name for this condition is acrodermatitischronical atrophicans.
In stage 3, you may also see tumors on your skin. It is believed that the long-term infection and swelling in the lymph nodes can lead to a cancer known as cutaneous B-cell lymphoma.
Skin starts to harden and shrink, causing deep lines to form
The medical name for this condition is acrodermatitis chronical atrophicans. Swelling, hardened skin, and deep lines on the foot of someone who has had Lyme disease for years.
When you see signs of changing skin and symptoms: These tend to occur months or years after you are bitten by a tick.
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Signs Of Lyme Disease That Appear On Your Skin
Signs of Lyme disease
If you see a rash or another sign of Lyme disease on your skin, see your primary doctor right away. When caught early and treated, Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics and most people recover fully.
Lyme disease is caused by a bite from a black-legged tick. If you are bitten by this tick and develop Lyme disease, you may see a bulls-eye rash. Its a common sign of Lyme disease, but its not the only sign.
Lyme disease occurs in stages. Heres what you may see on your skin during each stage.
Regression And Other Symptoms In Children
Children are the largest population of Lyme patients.
The CDC study of reported Lyme cases from 19922006 found that the incidence of new cases was highest among 5- to 14-year-olds . About one quarter of reported Lyme cases in the United States involve children under 14 years old .
Children can have all the signs and symptoms of Lyme that adults have, but they may have trouble telling you exactly what they feel or where it hurts.
You may notice a decline in school performance, or your childs mood swings may become problematic.
Your childs social and speech skills or motor coordination may regress. Or your child may lose their appetite.
Children are more likely than adults to have arthritis as an initial symptom 01267-2/fulltext#sec0040″ rel=”nofollow”> 25).
In a 2012 Nova Scotian study of children with Lyme, 65 percent developed Lyme arthritis . The knee was the most commonly affected joint.
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Where Is Lyme Disease Most Often Found
Lyme disease can be found throughout the country, but it is most commonly reported in the Northeast, the Pacific coast, and the upper Midwest.
Over 90% of Lyme disease cases in dogs come from these regions, but it has been found in every state.
It is important to note that changes with deforestation and wild animal populations have caused shifts in these numbers, leading to an increase of Lyme cases in other regions.
Because of this, its important to be aware of Lyme disease no matter where you and your pup are located.
How Long After A Tick Bite Will Dogs Get Sick
If an infected tick has been on your dogs body for 24-48 hours, they have the ability to spread Lyme disease to your pup.
Once the bacteria makes its way into your dogs bloodstream, the clinical signs typically develop anywhere from 2-5 months after infection.
Some dogs have been known to develop symptoms years after their tick bite, proving just how varied this disease can be.
Not only can it take months for symptoms of Lyme disease to develop in dogs, but the clinical signs can come and go if the disease is left untreated.
For example, a dogs limp may disappear suddenly, only to return months later with a vengeance.
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Symptoms Diagnosis And Treatment
Symptoms of Lyme disease vary and may develop days or weeks after a person is infected from a tick bite. Early symptoms may include:
- Fever, chills, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue or swollen lymph nodes.
- A rash at the site of the tick bite develops in 70 to 80 per cent of people infected.
- A distinctive expanding, red ‘bulls-eye’ rash may develop at the site of the bite in some people.
- Later symptoms may include dizziness, abnormal heartbeat, mental confusion or inability to think clearly , nervous system disorders .
Getting a diagnosis of Lyme disease can be difficult as your symptoms may be similar to other illnesses. Inform your health care provider of any travel outside of the province and whether you have developed a rash around a recent tick bite.
Prevention and early diagnosis of Lyme disease are important. Consult a health care provider as soon as possible if you think you may have Lyme disease. The earlier you receive a diagnosis and treatment, the better your chances to make a full recovery.
Your health care provider should:
- review your symptoms
- find out if you were in an area at risk of having Lyme-infected blacklegged ticks
- do a physical examination and
- order laboratory blood tests to see if you have certain antibodies that could indicate you have the disease.
- sleep disturbance
- muscle and joint pain or
- mental confusion or inability to think clearly.
How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed
It can be hard for doctors to diagnose Lyme disease because:
- The tick bites and rash might not be noticed.
- Many early symptoms seem like the flu or other illnesses.
- Blood tests are not always accurate, especially early in the illness.
Doctors can diagnose early Lyme disease if they see a tick bite and rash. Blood tests usually aren’t helpful in the first month of Lyme disease.
To diagnose late Lyme disease, doctors:
- Ask about symptoms.
- Do blood tests that look for signs of Lyme disease.
Depending on the symptoms, doctors might order other tests, such as a spinal tap, which looks at the fluid around the brain and spinal cord.
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Both Ringworm And Lyme Disease Cause Bullseye Rashes
When a mystery “bullseye” rash suddenly appearsa red circle on your skinits often hard to tell whether it is caused by Lyme disease or ringworm. Diagnosis can be even more complicated if you do not remember being bitten by a tick. When I had my first bullseye rash, I knew Lyme was a possibility, but I did not know if something else could have caused it, too. In my research, I found only two conditions that cause this distinct circular rash: Lyme disease and ringworm.
There are many similarities between these ring-shaped rashes, which makes it harder to distinguish them, but there are some key differences. I will briefly cover some information about each disease, and I have also included a picture reference guide to help you identify which rash you may have.
Key Points To Remember
- Most Lyme disease tests are designed to detect antibodies made by the body in response to infection.
- Antibodies can take several weeks to develop, so patients may test negative if infected only recently.
- Antibodies normally persist in the blood for months or even years after the infection is gone therefore, the test cannot be used to determine cure.
- Infection with other diseases, including some tickborne diseases, or some viral, bacterial, or autoimmune diseases, can result in false positive test results.
- Some tests give results for two types of antibody, IgM and IgG. Positive IgM results should be disregarded if the patient has been ill for more than 30 days.
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History Of Lyme Disease
The history of the disease can be traced back to 1975 in United States, where the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis started being seen in large number of cases in Lyme, Connecticut area. This gave it the name for which it is well known today. Owing to the uncurbed deer population, the number of deer ticks in the region started to increase. More and more cases of tick bites became prevalent in these parts. The lone star or deer tick causing the disease came closer to human residences where people were apparently bitten while mowing their lawns, hiking in wooded, grassy regions or through their family pets.
If You Suspect Lyme Visit Your Doctor
If you suspect Lyme disease, do not hesitate to go to a doctors office. This guide is not meant to replace your doctors care, but to help you educate yourself. I can say from personal experience that its wise to educate yourself, because many doctors, even infectious disease specialists, are not well informed about the dangers of Lyme disease. It is more widespread than many people think, not easy to diagnose, and not easy to treatespecially if it is not treated in the first few weeks. If misdiagnosed, Lyme disease can go on for months and years.
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What Is Late Lyme Disease
Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is caused by an infection with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacteria is disseminated through tick bites. Infected ticks usually bite small mammals, who do not develop any kind of infection from the bacteria. When humans are exposed to B. Burgdorferi from a tick bite, however, they can develop Lyme disease.
People who work outside or spend time in woodland areas, where there is greater potential for exposure to tick bites, are most at risk of infection.
Lyme disease is a condition which progresses in stages:
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Disclaimer: The above material is provided for information purposes only. The material is not nor should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor does it necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of Global Lyme Alliance, Inc. or any of its directors, officers, advisors or volunteers. Advice on the testing, treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patients medical history. Global Lyme Alliance, Inc. makes no warranties of any kind regarding this Website, including as to the accuracy, completeness, currency or reliability of any information contained herein, and all such warranties are expressly disclaimed.
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Learn The Stages Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease occurs in three stages: early localized, early disseminated and late disseminated. However the stages can overlap and not all patients go through all three. A bulls-eye rash is usually considered one of the first signs of infection, but many people develop a different kind of rash or none at all. In most cases, Lyme symptoms can start with a flu-like illness. If untreated, the symptoms can continue to worsen and turn into a long-lived debilitating illness.
Stage 1: Early Localized Disease
Symptoms with early localized Lyme disease may begin hours, a few days or even weeks after a tick bite. At this point, the
infection has not yet spread throughout the body. Lyme is the easiest to cure at this stage.
Symptoms may include:
- skin rash, which may or may not look like a bulls eye
- flu-like illness, including chills and fever
- muscle soreness and joint pain
- swollen lymph nodes
- sore throat
Stage 2: Early Disseminated Lyme
Early disseminated Lyme may occur several weeks or months after the tick bite. Bacteria are beginning to spread throughout the body. In addition to flu-like symptoms, this stage is often characterized by increase in symptoms such as:
- pain, weakness or numbness in the arms, legs
- vision changes
- heart problems, such as palpitations, chest pain
- rash may appear on body
- facial paralysis
Stage 3: Late Disseminated Lyme Disease
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How To Avoid Tick Bites
To reduce the chance of being bitten:
- cover your skin while walking outdoors and tuck your trousers into your socks
- use insect repellent on your clothes and skin products containing DEET are best
- stay on clear paths whenever possible
- wear light-coloured clothing so ticks are easier to see and brush off
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Seek Medical Care Early To Prevent Lyme Disease From Progressing
Its easy to get bit by a tick and not know it. Most people dont feel a tick on their skin or the bite. Checking your skin for ticks after spending time outdoors can help you find a tick and remove it.
Removing a tick can prevent Lyme disease. A tick must be attached to your skin for at least 36 hours to infect you with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
Its not always possible to find a tick, so its important to pay close attention to your skin. If you notice any signs of Lyme disease or develop a rash, get medical care right away. Ticks can cause other serious diseases, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Related AAD resources
ImagesImage 1: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Image Library, Last accessed May 11, 2017.
Images 2, 3, and 7: Used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011 64:619-36.
Image 6: Used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
ReferencesBhate C and Schwartz RA.
Lyme disease: Part I. Advances and perspectives. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011 64:619-36.
Lyme disease: Part II. Management and prevention. J Am Acad Dermatol 2011 64:639-53.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Signs and symptoms of untreated Lyme disease. Page last updated October 26, 2016. Last accessed May 2, 2018.
Lyme disease: transmission. Page lasted updated March 4, 2015. Last accessed May 2, 2018.
How We Care For Lyme Disease
The Division of Infectious Diseases at Boston Children’s provides comprehensive care for children and adolescents with Lyme disease and other infections. Our services include consultation, evaluation, treatment, and management of long-term complications of Lyme disease.
The commitment and compassion with which we care for all children and families is matched only by the pioneering spirit of discovery and innovation that drives us to think differently, to find answers, and to build a better tomorrow for children everywhere.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Early symptoms of Lyme disease start between 3 to 30 days after an infected tick bites you. The symptoms can include:
- A red rash called erythema migrans . Most people with Lyme disease get this rash. It gets bigger over several days and may feel warm. It is usually not painful or itchy. As it starts to get better, parts of it may fade. Sometimes this makes the rash look like a “bull’s-eye.”
- Muscle and joint aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
If the infection is not treated, it can spread to your joints, heart, and nervous system. The symptoms may include:
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes on other areas of your body
- Facial palsy, which is a weakness in your facial muscles. It can cause drooping on one or both sides of your face.
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, especially in your knees and other large joints
- Pain that comes and goes in your tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- Heart palpitations, which are feelings that your heart is skipping a beat, fluttering, pounding, or beating too hard or too fast
- Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet