Is Lyme Disease Curable
Lyme disease is considered curable when people receive prompt antibiotic treatment for their symptoms. The sooner treatment begins, the speedier and fuller their recovery. Even people whose illness has progressed beyond the early Lyme disease stages often respond well to treatment.
The CDC endorses treatment guidelines developed by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, which represents nearly 10,000 physicians and scientists specializing in infectious disease. However, not all clinicians agree on the best way to diagnose and treat Lyme disease.
Unfortunately, there’s no blood test to confirm whether someone has fully recovered from Lyme disease. The antibodies that people produce to fight off the infection can remain in their blood for months or years after treatment, even though the bacteria that caused Lyme disease are long gone.And some patients report symptoms that linger after treatment, fueling controversy about the best approach to treating patients.
Patients with persistent symptoms may want to get tested for other tick-borne illnesses, such as anaplasmosis or babesiosis. The rate of such “co-infections” with Lyme disease varies by region.
Early Localized Lyme Disease
During this stage, the infection has not yet spread to other parts of the body. Diagnosing Lyme disease during stage 1 gives you the best chances of a quicker recovery.
Early localized Lyme disease commonly begins with a rash called erythema migrans. This rash, which occurs in 70% to 80% of infected people, typically develops seven days after a bite but can occur within three to 30 days.
The rash grows slowly over several days and can be more than 12 inches in diameter. The rash may be warm to the touch but is not usually painful or itchy. Some people may develop the classic bulls eye rash, but the rash’s appearance can vary greatly.
The following symptoms may also be present with or without a rash:
- Joint or muscle pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
People treated during this stage often recover quickly and completely. Treatment involves 10 to 14 days of oral antibiotics.
Unfortunately, 10% to 25% of cases may go unnoticed and progress to later stages of the disease.
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.
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What Are The Complications Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease affects people differently. Relapse and incomplete treatment responses happen. Relapse and incomplete treatment responses happen. Complications of untreated early-stage disease include:
Frequent hospitalizations to manage the disease
Some of these complications result in chronic, debilitating conditions.
Some people may develop post-Lyme disease syndrome . A condition also known as chronic Lyme disease includes PLDS, but also other syndromes. Usually, these are characterized by persistent musculoskeletal and peripheral nerve pain, fatigue, and memory impairment.
What Happens At Your Appointment
The GP will ask about your symptoms and consider any rash or recent tick bites you know about.
Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose. It has similar symptoms to other conditions and there’s not always an obvious rash.
2 types of blood test are available to help confirm or rule out Lyme disease. But these tests are not always accurate in the early stages of the disease.
You may need to be retested if you still have Lyme disease symptoms after a negative result.
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Who Is At Risk For Lyme Disease
Anyone can get a tick bite. But people who spend lots of time outdoors in wooded, grassy areas are at a higher risk. This includes campers, hikers, and people who work in gardens and parks.
Most tick bites happen in the summer months when ticks are most active and people spend more time outdoors. But you can get bitten in the warmer months of early fall, or even late winter if temperatures are unusually high. And if there is a mild winter, ticks may come out earlier than usual.
Lyme Disease In Children
Children are just as prone to getting Lyme disease as anyone else. Depending on where they live and play and how much time they spend outdoors, kids may be at greater risk than many adults.
How do you know if your child has Lyme disease? Parents may suspect Lyme if the family lives in or visits an area where the disease is commonly found. Knowing or suspecting that your son or daughter has been exposed to ticks is another indicator. Contact your health provider if your child is experiencing symptoms, such as rash, fever, chills, fatigue, muscle or joint pain, or facial paralysis.
Children diagnosed with Lyme disease typically receive two to four weeks of antibiotics. Doxycycline or amoxicillin are usually the treatments of choice unless children are under the age of eight or are allergic.
If a Lyme diagnosis is inconclusive, the doctor may order a blood test for antibodies to the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
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Other Pathogens To Blame
Shor and his co-authors, including Maloney, propose that the lingering symptoms are caused by several pathogens from the Borrelia burgdorferi family or other tick-borne pathogens.
Nardelli said there’s a variety of symptoms and severity in Lyme disease patients, and those symptoms can be caused by the inflammatory responses against the microbes.
“Inflammation is a huge part of the immune response. It’s one of the frontline defenses we have, and it has this negative connotation, but it is intended for good,” he said. “Your immune response trying to kill the bug … and in doing so, can cause damage, essentially.”
The black-legged tick, or deer tick, is the vector of the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Deer ticks are present everywhere in Wisconsin where there is forested habitat. Pictured clockwise from top left: nymph, larva, adult male, adult female. Deer ticks have three life stages, the larva becomes a nymph, which then becomes an adult.
Some theories suggest that variants of the Lyme bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. Others argue that chronic Lyme is caused by a powerful immune reaction or it may even trigger an autoimmune disease. The central neural networks may be altered, having a significant impact on symptoms or a combination of these factors.
That can lead them to seek out untrustworthy practitioners or fall for costly treatments that don’t work. “You go out and find doctors that diagnose everything as Lyme disease,” Nardelli said.
Untreated Lyme Disease Frequency
Its difficult to get exact numbers when it comes to Lyme disease, in part because theres only limited accounting of the conditions frequency overall, and its often misdiagnosed or mistaken for other conditions.
Currently, its estimated that 476,000 people develop it in the United States every year, with 81% of the cases clustered in the Northeast, upper Midwest, and mid-Atlantic regions.
A significantbut shrinkingproportion of those with the disease end up progressing without treatment. Current estimates are hard to come by. In 2012, researchers estimated that about 16% of Lyme disease cases present without rashincreasing the chance that the case is missed, overall. From 1.6% to 7% of all infections have no symptoms.
Knowledge and awareness of this disease have grown over the past couple of decades, greatly improving outcomes. This improving prognosis is associated with better care and detection, leading to timelier intervention.
If you live in a hot spot area for black-legged ticks, never hesitate to reach out to your healthcare professional if youre feeling sick or have a rash.
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Living With Lyme Disease
Most people treated in the early stages of Lyme disease make a quick and complete recovery. Some may experience symptoms for a few weeks after treatment. If you were treated for Lyme disease but you still dont feel well, call your family doctor. They can make sure there isnt something else wrong. They can help you find ways to ease your symptoms. Some patients have found relief with treatments typically used for chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia.
Other things you can do to help manage Lyme disease include:
- Educate yourself. There is a lot of inaccurate information to be sorted through, especially on the internet. Ask your doctor if you have questions.
- Track your symptoms. Keep a diary of your sleep patterns, eating habits, exercise routines, and how youre feeling. You or your doctor may be able to make connections between them.
- Take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet. Exercise as regularly as you can. Get plenty of rest.
- Find support.It can be hard to not feel well and not know why. Some people may think your symptoms arent real. Talk to friends and family. If they cant offer support, talk with a counselor who can help you.
Stage : Late Disseminated Lyme Disease
Late disseminated Lyme disease occurs when the infection hasnt been treated in stages 1 and 2. Stage 3 can occur months or years after the tick bite.
This stage is characterized by:
- arthritis of one or more large joints
- brain disorders, such as encephalopathy, which can cause short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating, mental fogginess, problems with following conversations, and sleep disturbance
- numbness in the arms, legs, hands, or feet
- park or wildlife management
The majority of tick bites happen in the summer when ticks are the most active and people spend more time outside. However, its also possible to get Lyme disease from tick bites in early fall, and even in late winter if the weather is unseasonably warm.
Lyme disease prevention mostly involves decreasing your risk of experiencing a tick bite.
Take the following steps to prevent tick bites:
Contact a doctor if and whenever a tick bites you or your loved ones.
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How Are Dogs Tested For Lyme Disease
Diagnosis is made by a combination of history, physical signs, and diagnostics. For dogs, the two blood tests for diagnosing Lyme disease are called the C6 Test and Quant C6 test. Veterinarians perform both.
The C6 test detects antibodies against a protein called C6. Presence of the antibodies suggests an active Lyme infection. The C6 antibodies can be detected three to five weeks after an infected tick bites a dog and may be found in the bloodstream even before the dog shows signs of illness.
The next step is to do a Quant C6 test. This, along with urinalysis will help determine if antibiotic treatment is necessary.
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Who Gets Lyme Disease
Some people live in areas where Lyme disease is common. Why? Because a lot of those nasty ticks live there, too. In the United States, most infected ticks live in the coastal Northeast and in the upper Midwest .
Impress your family and friends and tell them these are endemic areas areas where infected ticks live.
Besides living in one of these areas, other things that might increase a person’s risk include:
- spending a lot of time outdoors in tall grass, brush, shrubs, or wooded areas
- having pets that may carry ticks indoors
- activities such as yardwork, hiking, camping, fishing, or hunting in tick-infested areas
Which Areas Are More Likely To Have It
The tick that causes Lyme disease has been moving from the Northeast and upper Midwest into the Southern and Western U.S., Mexico, and Canada. Cases in California and Florida are on the rise. After a drop between 2017 and 2018, the numbers jumped a little bit in 2019.
But most Lyme cases in 2019 were in 15 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New
Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Washington, DC, is also a hotspot.
In 2019, Pennsylvania had the most Lyme infections, with 6,763. New York was next, with 2,847 cases.
In the Southern U.S., where itâs hotter, ticks stay under leaves so they don’t dry out. This means people donât get Lyme from Southern ticks very often because they don’t usually come out to bite.
Even though people only report about 30,000 cases of Lyme infection in the U.S. each year, there are actually around 476,000 a year. The same tick also can spread other diseases, including babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and Powassan virus. Those diseases are also on the rise in the U.S.
Whoâs likeliest to get Lyme disease?
Boys up to age 15 and men between the ages of 40 and 60 are the most likely to get Lyme disease. Thatâs because they tend to play outside and go camping, hunting, and hiking.
Why are there more ticks now than there used to be?
There are several reasons why Lyme is spreading. Some of these are:
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Health Woes Lead To Self
Oppenheimer said Freitas, once wildly independent, increasingly depends on him as she struggles with her health. The two met when she was a single mom driving a Madison Metro bus and juggling classes at the UW-Madison. Oppenheimer had overheard her speaking in Portuguese, and he tried to put together a phrase that he could speak in the same language. That led to a first date and in 2011, marriage.
But these days, Oppenheimer said, his wife is “very drained.”
And even friends and family members question whether the symptoms Freitas describes are real.
“When everybody is saying that it is not Lyme,” Freitas said, “you start to question yourself.”
She tried a four-week course of doxycycline, the first-line antibiotics therapy for treating Lyme disease, prescribed by another rheumatologist. She began to feel better, with less pain and less brain fog. However, the symptoms returned once she completed the treatment. She even found herself starting to stutter.
Oppenheimer himself was diagnosed with Lyme disease as a 19-year-old. At the time, he was living less than 50 miles from Lyme, Connecticut, the community for which the disease was named.
He described an “arrogant unwillingness” by the medical establishment to recognize what he believes are his wife’s ongoing symptoms of Lyme disease.
” just trying to be there with her and seemingly nothing to be able to do, and it’s horrible to watch,” he said.
Can Lyme Disease Be Treated
In most cases, yes. Antibiotics can effectively treat Lyme disease, especially when treatment begins early. Cases that reach the later stages of the disease, however, can be difficult to treat and some symptoms can persist.
PHAC reports that removing the tick within 24-36 hours usually prevents infection.
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Doctors Debate Patients Suffer: The Fight Over Chronic Lyme Disease In Wisconsin
Mainstream medicine says the tick-borne infection is a short-term ailment, but some patients insist they have Lyme-caused symptoms that last for years.
If life had gone as planned, Maria Alice Lima Freitas would be in medical school, inspired by the career of her father, a surgeon who practiced in Brazil. But instead of changing careers, the 49-year-old therapist retired from University of Wisconsin-Madison.
When To See A Healthcare Provider
Since Lyme disease can take different forms, and since its often confused with other conditions, its important to be proactive if you suspect the condition. What signs prompt medical help? Call the healthcare provider if:
- You have a bullseye rashor any kind of rashfollowing a tick bite.
- You experience flu-like symptoms after a tick bite.
- You experience symptoms of more advanced Lyme disease: arthritis, heart palpitations, facial paralysis, dizziness, and others.
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