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, Lyme disease symptoms can continue to worsen and turn into a long-lived debilitating illness.
Developing Better Insect Repellents
CDC researchers have discovered that a naturally occurring compound called nootkatone, found in grapefruit, Alaska yellow cedar trees, and some herbs, can kill or repel ticks and insects. On August 10, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency registered nootkatone, an active ingredient discovered and developed by DVBD, for use in repellents and insecticides. CDCs work with licensed partner, Evolva, demonstrates that nootkatone effectively repels and kills mosquitoes and ticks at rates similar to products already on the market. Commercial products using the ingredient could be available as early as 2022.
What Is Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection. You get it when the blacklegged tick, also known as a deer tick, bites you and stays attached for 36 to 48 hours. If you remove the tick within 48 hours, you probably wonât get infected.
When you do get infected, the bacteria travel through your bloodstream and affect various tissues in your body. If you donât treat Lyme disease early on, it can turn into an inflammatory condition that affects multiple systems, starting with your skin, joints, and nervous system and moving to organs later on.
The chances you might get Lyme disease from a tick bite depend on the kind of tick, where you were when it bit you, and how long the tick was attached to you. Youâre most likely to get Lyme disease if you live in the Northeastern United States. The upper Midwest is also a hot spot. But the disease now affects people in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
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What Is The Outlook For Someone With Lyme Disease
Most of the people who get Lyme disease and receive treatment early will be fine. Treatment can cure Lyme disease but you might still have some long-term effects. Untreated Lyme disease may contribute to other serious problems but its rarely fatal.
Post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome
Even after proper treatment, some people may experience lingering fatigue, achiness or headaches. This is known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome or PTLDS. The symptoms dont mean that you still have an infection. PTLDS probably wont respond to additional antibiotics. The majority of people in this group will have symptoms that resolve at some point over the next six months.
Chronic Lyme disease
Chronic Lyme disease is a term used by some for a condition in a person who had Lyme disease and the symptoms of PTLDS. Some people consider chronic Lyme disease to be the same as PTLDS. However, some people receive a chronic Lyme disease diagnosis without a Lyme disease diagnosis. Sometimes, extended treatment with antibiotics helps.
This term may be why some people think a Lyme disease infection can occur without being bitten by a tick. There isn’t enough proof that mosquitoes can transmit Lyme disease. Many researchers dislike using the term chronic Lyme disease.
Which Ticks Do Not Carry Lyme Disease
The U.S. has tick species that do not carry B. burgdorferi. These are:
- lone star ticks
- American dog ticks
- brown dog ticks
- Rocky Mountain wood ticks
CDC , scientists have discovered very few cases of Lyme disease not originating from tick bites.
- Person-to-person: It is impossible to contract Lyme disease through person-to-person contact. This includes touching, kissing, or engaging in sexual activity with a person who has Lyme disease.
- Via childbirth during delivery or breastfeeding: Lyme disease does not transmit to a child via delivery or breastfeeding. However, it is possible for untreated Lyme disease to affect the placenta. In rare cases, this can cause Lyme disease in the placenta.
- Blood transfusions: There are no known cases of Lyme disease from blood transfusions. However, Lyme disease can survive in donated blood. For this reason, people with Lyme disease should avoid donating blood.
- From pets: There is no evidence that Lyme disease can spread directly from pets to humans. This includes cats and dogs. However, it is possible for pets to bring infected ticks into the home.
- Air, food, or water: There is no evidence that Lyme disease can spread through the air, food, or water.
- Bites from other bugs: There is no evidence that Lyme disease can spread through other bug bites. This includes flies, fleas, and mosquitos.
recommends taking the following precautions:
While outdoors, people should walk in the center of trails and avoid high grasses and shrubbery.
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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.
How To Spot And Remove Ticks
Once youve come in from outside, one of the best ways to check yourself for ticks is to take a shower and bath.
Other than that, do your best to check your clothes, especially the folds of your clothes, knowing that ticks can be very small and hard to spot. Running your hands through your hair is also a good idea.
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Where Are Ticks Found
Ticks are found throughout the UK and in other parts of Europe and North America. There are a high number of ticks in the Scottish Highlands.
They can be found in any areas with deep or overgrown plants where they have access to animals to feed on.
They’re common in woodland and moorland areas, but can also be found in gardens or parks.
Can Lyme Disease Completely Be Cured
Taking oral antibiotics typically cures Lyme disease after two to four weeks. You may need to get antibiotics through the vein for four more weeks. However, theres no reason to think that Lyme disease stays in you forever after treatment.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If youre going to spend time in an area that might have ticks, take measures to avoid being bitten. This includes wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants to make it harder for ticks to bite. If you feel sick after being in an area that probably has ticks, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. If your provider prescribes antibiotics, make sure you take all of them as instructed.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/16/2022.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.Policy
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When To See Your Gp
You should contact your GP or dial NHS 111 promptly if you feel unwell with any of the symptoms described above after being bitten by a tick or after spending time in areas where ticks may live.
Take this leaflet with you if you are unsure what to say and remember to let your GP know if youve recently had a tick bite or spent time in areas where ticks may live.
Diagnosing Lyme disease can be difficult as many of the symptoms are similar to other conditions. A spreading erythema migrans rash appearing some days after a known tick bite is characteristic and should be treated with antibiotics.
If you dont have this rash but do have other symptoms of Lyme disease, blood tests can be carried out that look for antibodies against the borrelia bacteria.
Blood tests can be negative in the early stages of the infection as the antibodies take some time to reach levels that can be detected.
You may need to be re-tested if Lyme disease is still suspected 4 to 6 weeks after a first negative test result.
If you have long-lasting symptoms, you may be referred to a specialist in microbiology, infectious diseases, rheumatology, or neurology as appropriate for further investigation and management.
Where Do Ticks Live
Ticks prefer moist, shady areas like woods, tall grass, shrubs, brush, and leaf piles. They also can be found in beach grass, in city parks, on golf courses, and on farms.
Black-legged ticks are most prevalent in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic U.S., from northeastern Virginia to Maine in North Central states like Wisconsin and Minnesota and on the West Coast, particularly in northern California.
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Tick To Human Lyme Disease Transmission
For Lyme disease to spread from a tick to a human, the infected tick must bite you and remain attached for at least 24 to 36 hours. The ticks, who often live in tall grass and wooded areas, cling to humans in places that are hard to detect. Most of the ticks that transmit Lyme disease are young . These smaller, immature ticks are even harder to discover on the body.
Tick bites can happen almost all year round but are most common in the spring and summer months. There is no concrete evidence that a person can transmit Lyme disease to another human, except for the possibility of a pregnant person with untreated Lyme disease transferring the infection to their unborn child.
Once a tick finds an attachment site on your skin, it makes an incision to place its feeding tube. It secretes substances to help it stay in place. Tick saliva has properties that numb your skin so youre less likely to feel it. As the tick slowly sucks your blood, it can transmit bacteria that cause infections, like Lyme disease.
If youre worried about contracting Lyme disease, take precautions to avoid ticks in the first place:
- Wear fully covering clothing when going outside .
- Walk in the middle of trails instead of on the sides near trees and brush.
- Avoid tall grass or areas with shrubs.
Stage : Early Disseminated Lyme Disease
Timing: Weeks to months after a tick bite
In early disseminated Lyme disease, the infection has started to move beyond the site of your tick bite to other parts of your body such as your heart, brain, or spinal cord. Lyme disease that has moved to the brain is sometimes referred to as Lyme neuroborreliosis, or neurological Lyme disease.
Common symptoms of early disseminated Lyme disease include:
More than one EM rash
Pain that may come and go and move around the body, in joints, tendons, muscles, and bones
Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord , which can cause severe headache, neck stiffness, and sensitivity to light and sound
Numbness, weakness, or tingling in the arms and legs
Weakness or drooping on one or both sides of the face difficulty closing an eyelid
Inflammation of the heart that can cause heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, shortness of breath, or fainting. If you are experiencing any of these heart symptoms, seek immediate medical care.
You may also experience a worsening of earlier Lyme disease symptoms.
Lyme disease can cause joint pain , a stiff neck , or weakness or drooping on one or both sides of the face, known as facial palsy .
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How You Get Lyme Disease
If a tick bites an animal carrying the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, the tick can become infected. The tick can then transfer the bacteria to a human by biting them.
Ticks don’t jump or fly. They climb on to your clothes or skin if you brush against something they’re on. They then bite into the skin and start to feed on your blood.
Generally, you’re more likely to become infected if the tick is attached to your skin for more than 24 hours. Ticks are very small and their bites are not painful, so you may not realise you have one attached to your skin.
When Should You See A Doctor If You Think You Have Lyme
The rash is a pretty good indication that you may have been bitten. Take a photo of the rash and see your doctor. At this stage, treatment with antibiotics will probably work.
If you don’t have the rash but have symptoms like fatigue, fever, and headache but no respiratory symptoms like a cough, you may want to talk to your doctor.
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Who’s At Risk Of Lyme Disease
The risk of getting Lyme disease is higher:
- for people who spend time in woodland or moorland areas
- from March to October because more people take part in outdoor activities
It’s thought only a small proportion of ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Being bitten doesn’t mean you’ll definitely be infected. However, it’s important to be aware of the risk and speak to a GP if you start to feel unwell.
What Time Of Year Are Ohioans At Risk For Contracting Lyme Disease
In Ohio, cases of Lyme disease are reported in every month of the year. However, the number of reported cases is lowest in the winter, gradually rises in the spring, peaks in the summer, then declines through late summer and autumn.
It can take anywhere from three to 30 days from when the tick bite occurs to when symptoms of Lyme disease appear. Since most cases get sick in July and August, that means most cases are bitten by an infected blacklegged tick between June and July. Therefore, late spring through mid-summer is the time of year when Ohioans are most at risk for contracting Lyme disease.
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Discovering New Tickborne Diseases
CDC is partnering with the Minnesota Department of Health, Mayo Clinic, Tennessee Department of Health, and Vanderbilt University to obtain up to 30,000 clinical specimens from patients with suspected tickborne illness over a 3-year period. CDC will use advanced molecular detection methods to identify tickborne bacteria that may be the cause of these patients illnesses. Already, investigators have used AMD to sequence the full genome of a newly discovered bacteria, Borrelia mayonii, which is another cause of Lyme disease in upper Midwestern states.
Using advanced molecular detection techniques, CDC researchers analyzed over 13,000 leftover samples for the presence of bacteria from patients who were suspected of having tickborne illness. Twelve tickborne species of bacteria that cause illness in people were detected, including two not previously associated with human illness. This large-scale study involving researchers from the Minnesota Department of Health, Mayo Clinic, Tennessee Department of Health, and Vanderbilt University, showed that a single advanced molecular detection test can be used to:
- Detect tickborne bacterial pathogens in clinical samples
- Discover bacteria not previously associated with human infection, that are likely transmitted to humans by tick bite
- Identify tick-transmitted bacterial co-infections
- Understand which bacterial infections can cause symptoms that may be confused with tickborne diseases
Where Can I Get More Information
- For questions about your own health, contact your doctor, nurse, or clinic
- For questions about diseases spread by ticks, contact the MDPH at 983-6800 or online on the MDPH Tickborne Diseases website . You may also contact your local Board of Health .
- Health effects of pesticides, MDPH, Bureau of Environmental Health at 624-5757
Chinese, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese translations of this fact sheet are available under additional resources.
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How Can You Prevent Lyme Disease
Now you know the answer to Can you die from Lyme disease? is yes, so preventing it in the first place is significantly essential. The two types of ticks that spread Lyme disease live in wooded and high grass areas, so extra precaution should be taken in those places. Other recommendations include:
- Learn which tick borne diseases are common in your area.
- Avoid areas with leaf litter, thick vegetation, and high grass.
- When hiking, walk in the center of trails.
- Use repellent that contains 30 percent DEET on exposed skin.
- Treat clothing and gear with products containing permethrin.
- Regularly treat pets with products that kill and/or repel ticks.
- Look for crawling ticks before they bite you, and bathe or shower after coming indoors.
- Remove all attached ticks immediately with tweezers.
Can Lyme Disease Affect Personality
Itis by no means an unprecedented occurrence for a bacterial infection to impacta patients brain. Syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection, can turn toneurosyphilis. This causes auditory and visual hallucinations andvarying types of mood disturbances in patients if left untreated. Likewise, the bacteria that leads to Lymedisease could have similar effects on the brains of people who have beeninfected.
Oftencalled The Great Imitator, Lyme disease can damage the central nervous system,which can lead to unexpected changes in a patients thoughts, feelings, andbehavior. As one study revealed: A broad range of psychiatric reactions have been associated with Lymedisease including paranoia, dementia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, panicattacks, major depression, anorexia nervosa, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.Depressive states among patients with late Lyme disease are fairly common,ranging across studies from 26% to 66%.
Withsuch a wide range of mental illness linked to Lyme-related symptoms, its nowonder that Lyme-related illness is so hard to diagnose. Because we understandso little about the long-term effects of Lyme disease and personality changes,many people who experience physical symptoms or mental illness after beingdiagnosed with Lyme disease struggle for quite some time without receiving aconcrete diagnosis.
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