People At Risk And Where Ticks Are Found
People who spend time in woodland or heath areas in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and other parts of Europe or North America are most at risk of developing Lyme disease.
Most tick bites happen in late spring, early summer and autumn. This is because these are the times of year when most people take part in outdoor activities, such as hiking and camping.
It’s thought only a small amount of all ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Being bitten doesn’t mean you’ll definitely be infected.
What Happens During Lyme Disease Testing
Lyme disease testing is usually done with your blood or cerebrospinal fluid.
For a Lyme disease blood test:
- A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
If you have symptoms of Lyme disease affecting your nervous system, such as neck stiffness and numbness in hands or feet, you may need a test of cerebrospinal fluid . CSF is a clear liquid found in your brain and spinal cord. During this test, your CSF will be collected through a procedure called a lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap. During the procedure:
Unexplained Pain And Other Sensations
Some people with Lyme may have sharp rib and chest pains that send them to the emergency room, suspecting a heart problem 00090-7/abstract%20″ rel=”nofollow”> 27).
When no problem is found, after the usual testing, the ER diagnosis is noted as an unidentified musculoskeletal cause.
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Other symptoms have to do with cranial nerves.
- Ear-ringing . Tinnitus can be a nuisance, especially at bedtime when it seems to get louder as youre trying to fall asleep. About 10 percent of people with Lyme experience this (
- Hearing loss. One study reported that 15 percent of Lyme patients experienced loss of hearing .
- Jaw pain or toothaches that are not related to actual tooth decay or infection.
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Ongoing Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
A few people who are diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease continue to have symptoms, like tiredness, aches and loss of energy, that can last for years.
It’s not clear why this happens to some people and not others. This means there’s also no agreed treatment.
Speak to a doctor if your symptoms come back, or do not improve, after treatment with antibiotics.
The doctor may be able to offer you further support if needed, such as:
- referral for a care needs assessment
- telling your employer, school or higher education institution that you require a gradual return to activities
- communicating with children and families’ social care
Page last reviewed: 05 July 2021 Next review due: 05 July 2024
Who’s At Risk And Where Are Ticks Found
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
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.
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.
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How Is It Diagnosed
If youâve been outside in an area where ticks are known to live, you should tell your doctor. Theyâll also want to know about the symptoms youâre having. These details are crucial to making a diagnosis of Lyme disease.
Early symptoms that usually occur within the first month after a tick bite can include:
- Rash at the site of the tick bite that may look like a âbullâs-eyeâ
- Racing heart
- Problems with your short-term memory
Symptoms that come and go are common with Lyme disease. They will also depend on the stage of the disease.
How Is Lyme Disease Spread
Not all deer ticks are infected with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Ticks can become infected if they feed on animals such as mice and other mammals that are infected. The disease can be spread when an infected tick bites a person and stays attached for a period of time. In general, the tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours or more. Lyme disease does not spread from one person to another. Transfer of the bacteria from an infected pregnant woman to her fetus is extremely rare.
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Does Lyme Disease Cause Peripheral Neuropathy
Yes, patients with Lyme disease may develop “peripheral neuropathy” a dysfunction of the nerves that transmit electrical signals between the body’s periphery and the spinal cord and brain. Common symptoms of Lyme-related neuropathy include multi-site “neuropathic pain” , spinal or radicular pain, distal paresthesias , sensory loss, weakness and hyporeflexia. . These symptoms are often caused by malfunctioning of small “A-delta fibers” and “C fibers” that carry pain and temperature signals. Pathology of the small nerve fibers can also disrupt autonomic functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, and gastrointestinal functions. Involvement of the cranial nerves can lead to blurry vision, double vision, facial droop, loss of balance, or tinnitus .
The precise mechanisms by which these nerve fibers are damaged in Lyme disease remains a subject of active investigation. Some possibilities include: direct assault on the nerve fibers by spirochetes during periods of active infection immune-mediated damage to the nerve fibers or their protective myelin sheaths by the host’s own innate or adaptive immune system or production of antibodies with accumulation of immune-complexes that disrupt the small vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the metabolically-active peripheral nerves.
What Causes Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria. In the United States, this is usually a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. It spreads to humans through the bite of an infected tick. The ticks that spread it are blacklegged ticks . They are usually found in the:
- Upper Midwest
- Pacific coast, especially northern California
These ticks can attach to any part your body. But they are often found in hard-to-see areas such as your groin, armpits, and scalp. Usually the tick must be attached to you for 36 to 48 hours or more to spread the bacterium to you.
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How Long Does It Take To Show Signs Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is characterized by various symptoms. The discomforts are very varied and affect many organs. If a person becomes infected with the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium by means of a tick bite, a reddish and annular lesion on the skin may appear after several days or weeks this would be the first manifestation.
In the first month of exposure to the tick, which in most cases the patient does not remember, early localized infection occurs, which is usually manifested by nonspecific flu-like symptoms and the appearance of migratory erythema, which is a papule or macula that extends painlessly to take the form of a target with the clearer center. Since a quarter of patients do not have migratory erythema, it is not uncommon for this first stage to go unnoticed and doctors receive a patient with symptoms of an early disseminated infection , after weeks or months of exposure. This stage could be initiated, for example, as a general condition with intense discomfort, diffuse pains, headache, asthenia or new cutaneous symptoms: annular lesions smaller than migratory erythema, or the rare presence of lymphocytoma cutis .
Considering the inconstancy and clinical variability of borreliosis in this phase, it has been called the great imitator.
In any case, and if we exclude the almost constant fatigue/lethargy, it seems that the most relevant and frequent presentation symptoms are neurological, followed by the musculoskeletal and dermatological signs.
How Can You Prevent Lyme Disease
The best way to avoid Lyme disease is simple: steer clear of ticks! Ticks tend to live in wooded areas with lots of bushes and long grass. That means you’re not only at risk when you’re out on a hike or a camping tripyou could also be bit if you have tall grass or trees in your own yard.
Here’s how to protect yourself from bites:
- Wear long sleeves and pants in wooded and grassy areas
- Spray yourself with repellent that contains 20% DEET, like Deep Woods Off
- Clear weeds and brush from your yard
- Check your body thoroughly after you’ve spent time in a tick-prone areaespecially hard-to-see parts of your body
Read up on the mistakes that up your risk for Lyme.
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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 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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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.
What Can I Expect Long Term If My Child Has Lyme Disease
If Lyme disease is caught and treated early, most children will make a full recovery. Some children with Lyme disease go on to experience what’s called a post-infectious syndrome with symptoms that may include feeling fatigue, joint aches and pains, headaches, difficulty sleeping, and problems concentrating. Since the infection itself is gone by this time, doctors generally don’t prescribe antibiotics. Each child is different, but it’s not uncommon for symptoms of post-infectious syndrome to linger for months, or even years, and they can be made worse by stress or other illness. But most children do make a full recovery.
Blacklegged, or deer, ticks are very small, so it helps to know what to look for when doing a tick check. Adults are about the size of sesame seeds and in the nymph or larva stage, they can be as tiny as a poppy seeds.
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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.
Are You The Ticks 2nd Meal
A tick that is partially fed may be able to transmit diseases faster, Eisen explains.
Partially fed ticks able to re-attach could result from detachment from dead animals or possibly by host grooming.
Researchers have shown that infected I. scapularis nymph ticks which had been previously attached to a host for 24 48 hours, then removed and placed onto a new host, can effectively transmit B. burgdorferi spirochete within 24 hours of their re-attachment, Eisen writes.
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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.
Can Lyme Disease Be Sexually Transmitted
First of all, if you have been treated for Lyme disease, even if your Western blot is positive, it is very unlikely that there are any spirochetes still circulating in your bodily fluids. Second, there is no good documentation that Lyme disease can be contracted by sexual contact. Given the number of cases of Lyme disease that have been diagnosed over the last 20 years and the fact that there are have been instances where people with active infection are having sexual intercourse but have not yet been treated, one would expect there to be many well documented cases of suspect partner to partner transmission this is not the case. Therefore, for all these reasons, it is highly unlikely that a person could acquire Lyme disease through unprotected intercourse or other sexual contact.
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My Child Had Lyme Disease Got Treated And Is Now Depressed Could This Be A Sign Of A Relapse
Depression is a word that encompasses physical, cognitive, and emotional components. The physical would be poor sleep, fatigue, low energy, lack of sex drive. The cognitive would include poor concentration and trouble making decisions. The emotional would include feeling guilty, hopeless, suicidal, and being unable to enjoy life in any aspect. Chronic symptoms triggered by Lyme disease are most often associated with insomnia or hypersomnia, fatigue, headaches, pain, and, not uncommonly, problems with cognition as well. In other words, chronic Lyme symptoms are most often associated with the physical and cognitive parts of the depressive picture and less often with the emotionally despairing part. When a person presents with the emotional part that is sustained for at least 2 weeks, it may be that a full syndrome depression has emerged related to the Lyme disease or that it is a concurrent but unrelated illness. The emotional aspects of depression might occur secondarily to being sick with a physical illness or directly from an infection affecting the brain or from chemicals affecting the brain that were released by infection outside of the brain. When a person has Lyme encephalitis , the emotional part of depression can be very dramatic. The person might be suddenly tearful for no apparent reason, have very poor frustration tolerance, become paranoid or angered at the least provocation, and appear to have a personality change.
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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