What Causes Lyme Disease
People get Lyme disease when they are bitten by an infected tick. Ticks live in areas with a lot of plant life, such as wooded areas or fields. They sit near the top of grassy plants and low bushes. They wait there for people or animals to brush up against them. Ticks can crawl on your clothes or body for up to several hours or more before attaching to the skin.
Ticks can attach to any part of your body. They are usually found in hard-to-see areas, including the armpits, groin, or scalp. An infected tick needs to be attached to your skin for 36 to 48 hours before it passes the bacteria on to you.
People who spend time in outdoor areas where ticks are common are at higher risk of getting tick-borne diseases.
What Do You Do If There’s A Tick Under Your Skin
Use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to remove it as soon as possible. Pull upward with steady pressure. If parts of the tick are still in your skin, try to get those with the tweezers, too. After everything is out, clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
You probably wonât get infected if you remove the tick within 36 to 48 hours.
How do you throw away a tick?
Put it in soapy water or alcohol, stick it to a piece of tape, or flush it down the toilet.
Is Lyme Disease Curable
The tick-borne illness can be treated with antibiotics, and most people make a full recovery within weeks or months. So why is there so much confusion?
In much of the country, spring and summer mean warmer weather and spending more time outdoors. Unfortunately, it also means that the ticks that carry Lyme disease bacteria may be out in full force, especially in wooded or grassy areas.
About 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported each year to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although experts estimate that 10 times that amount may actually be infected. Thats concerning, because if left untreated, Lyme disease can cause nerve damage, memory loss, dangerous inflammation around the heart, and other permanent health problems.
But the good news is that Lyme disease is also very treatableespecially when its diagnosed soon after symptoms begin. Lyme disease is always curable, Daniel Kuritzkes, MD, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston, tells Health. The medications we have are very effective at getting rid of the infection. Heres what else you need to know.
RELATED: How Do You Get Lyme Disease?
I Am Wondering If Columbia University Uses Xenodiagnosis For Detection Of Infectious Diseases
This is an interesting question. Xenodiagnosis in this case refers to allowing an uninfected tick to feed on an individual with suspected infection to see whether the tick is able to suck up spirochetes when the spirochetes might not have been detectable otherwise. As strange as this concept appears, it has been used successfully recently by Dr. Steven Barthold at UC Davis. After being unable to identify persistent infection in a treated infected mouse using the standard PCR and culture techniques, he was then able to identify the spirochetes in these mice after treatment using the xenodiagnosis method. We at Columbia are not using this method on humans. This is a very intriguing scientific question that should be studied in humans.
The Centers for Disease Control publishes national statistics and identifies those counties with the highest rates of Lyme disease in the United States. The web sites of many state health departments provide data on Lyme disease by town of residence.
Support groups can be found by calling the Lyme clinics or Lyme disease organizations in your state. You might also call a national organization, such as the Lyme Disease Association for the names of support groups in your area.
What Percent Of Cases Of Reasonably Proven Lyme Disease Present Without Erythema Migrans
According to the Centers for Disease Control , erythema migrans occurs in 60-80% of Confirmed cases. Under careful monitoring of patients who develop new onset symptoms, about 20% have systemic symptoms without a rash or other objective sign of Lyme disease .
To be considered a confirmed case by CDC for epidemiologic surveillance in the absence of a rash, a person has to have laboratory evidence of infection and at least one late manifestation of Lyme disease. Late manifestations of Lyme disease considered diagnostic are: joint swelling, facial palsy or other specific signs of nervous system involvement, or specific cardiac conduction defects. The CDC also has criteria for a “probable case”, defined as physician-diagnosed Lyme disease that has laboratory evidence of infection. Suspected cases without an EM are those with laboratory evidence of infection but no clinical information available.
Is It Possible For Lyme Disease To Be Misdiagnosed As Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Are There Similarities In Symptoms Between These Two Diseases
The question of a relationship between Lyme Disease and ALS first received significant academic attention when Dr. John Halperin who was then a neurologist at Stony Brook conducted a study in which he compared the frequency of blood test positivity to the agent of Lyme disease among patients with ALS to community controls. The results indicated a higher percentage of the ALS patients were seropositive for Lyme Disease. Since then, there have been isolated case reports both in the media and one or two in the academic literature indicating that a patient had been misdiagnosed with an ALS-like illness only later to be re-diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease with good clinical response. Although we suspect that there may be rare individuals who have symptoms similar to ALS but actually have proximal motor neuropathy caused by Lyme disease, the vast majority of patients with ALS are not thought to have Lyme disease as the cause of their serious disease. Clinical trials have been underway using antibiotics for ALS not because there is belief that ALS is caused by a microbe but because these antimicrobial agents have other properties as well, such as decreasing inflammation or decreasing glutamatergic excitotoxicity. The studies examining intravenous ceftriaxone as a treatment for ALS were not successful.
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.
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 Should Get Testing
Testing is usually indicated if a person has symptoms of Lyme disease and a known or possible exposure to ticks that can carry the Borrelia bacteria. However, because it takes time for antibodies to develop, the timing of testing is important to consider.
Lyme disease symptoms depend on the extent of the bacterial infection. Three phases are used to describe the infection:
It is important to understand these phases because testing is not equally valuable in each stage. With early localized disease and erythema migrans, blood testing is generally not helpful because antibodies have not had enough time to develop.
Because of similar concerns about potential false positive results, random screening for Lyme disease in people without symptoms is not recommended even in areas that are known to have ticks that can carry the Borrelia bacteria.
How Long Does It Take To Get Lyme Disease
The risk that a deer tick may transmit Lyme disease rises the longer the tick is attached, according to a review by Eisen from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in the January 2018 journal Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases.
A study by Eisen and colleagues addressed a frequently asked question: How long does it take to get Lyme disease? According to their findings, the probability of an individual becoming infected with Borrelia burgdorferi , the pathogen which causes Lyme disease, increases the longer the tick is attached.
Researchers found the risk increases:
- Approximately 10% after a tick has been attached for 48 hours
- 50% after 63 67 hours
- 70% by 72 hours
- 90% for a complete feed.
The time it takes to become infected with the Lyme disease bacteria has generated lively debate in the United States, writes Eisen.
Several mouse studies indicate that a single tick bite from a nymph tick cannot transmit Lyme disease in less than 24 hours. But others disagree.
The possibility that transmission of Lyme disease spirochetes could occur within 24 hours of nymphal attachment under unusual circumstances should not be discounted, writes Eisen.
While the tick is attached, the Bb spirochete have time to multiply in the gut, escape into the hemocoel and invade and multiply in the salivary glands before transmitting the Lyme bacteria.
Which Ticks Should I Worry About
Nymphal ticks cause most cases of Lyme disease. Because nymphs are as small as poppy seeds and their bite is painless, people often dont realize they have been bitten. Adult ticks can also infect humans, but are easier to spot and remove.
Not all ticks are infected. Because tick studies have only been done in a relatively few places, in most of the US, tick infection rates are unknown. Even in places where ticks generally do not carry Lyme, there may be hotspots of infection depending on local conditions. The tick infection rate may also change from year to year, even in one location.
To get a better idea of which tick-borne diseases have been found in your area, check this site.
Who You Really Are
Almost a decade later, with Lyme in my distant past, I see everything so clearly. Wellbeing comes down to this simple rule: You must become who you really are. You must follow your own path. There are elusive cures everywhere but your cure will always be unique. No one gives you the magic formula or the key to reveal it.
What we need to remind ourselves is that we are always right where we need to be.
Lyme disease patients now ask me the hardest questions Ive ever had to answer. Now that you know what you know, could you have healed without antibiotics? Without stem cells? What would you say to someone who is just starting?
You Do Not Usually Need Tests To Show That You Have Lyme Disease
In most cases, theres a clear sign of Lyme diseasea painless, spreading rash that often grows to look like a bulls eye. If you have this rash, and you recently had a tick bite or were in an area known for Lyme disease, you dont need a test. Instead, your doctor can just start treating you with antibiotics, as appropriate.
How Long Does It Take The Tick To Transmit Lyme
Experts disagree about how long it takes a tick to transmit Lyme disease. The CDC says that in most cases, the tick must be attached more than 24 hours.
We think that gives people a false sense of security. In some research studies, 5-7% of nymphs transmitted the Lyme bacteria in less than 24 hours. One paper reported on a case of Lyme disease transmitted after six hours of tick attachment. The risk may be low the first day, but its not zero.
Furthermore, some studies show that only 30% of patients with Lyme disease recall a tick bite. If people dont even realize that they were bitten, how could they know how long the tick was attached?
The longer a tick stays on you, the more likely it will transmit disease. Its important to find and remove any tick as soon as possible.
Underestimating Tick Attachment Time
There is, however, pitfalls in relying on tick attachment time to determine your risk of infection.
Bites by I.scapularis nymphs often go entirely undetected and tick-bite victims typically underestimate how long a nymph was attached before it was detected and removed, writes Eisen.
One study found that people consistently underestimate the actual time the tick was attached prior to being discovered.
Lastly, an individual would not know if they had been bitten by a partially fed tick, which would increase their chances of becoming infected and infected faster.
June 7, 2021
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.
How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed
Your doctor will diagnose you based on your symptoms and whether youâve been exposed to a tick. They might also run a blood test. In the first few weeks of infection, the test may be negative because antibodies take a few weeks to show up.
Hopefully soon, there will be tests that can diagnose Lyme disease in the first few weeks after youâre exposed. The earlier you get treated, the less likely itâll get worse.
About Ticks And Lyme Disease
Ticks are small crawling bugs in the spider family. They are arachnids, not insects. There are hundreds of different kinds of ticks in the world. Many of them carry bacteria, viruses or other pathogens that cause disease in humans and/or animals.
In the midwestern and eastern United States, Ixodes scapularis or deer tick is the primary vector of Lyme disease. On the West Coast, the spirochete is carried by Ixodes pacificus or western black-legged tick. In the South, lone star ticks can also transmit Lyme disease or a closely related illness.
Ticks have four life stages: egg, larva, nymph and adult. In each stage after hatching, they suck blood from animals like mice, squirrels, birds and deer. Then they drop off, enter a dormant period and molt to enter the next stage.
Ticks dont start out being infected with Lyme. They get it by feeding on an infected animal, often a mouse or other small rodent. Then, they pass it along to the next animal or person they bite.
How Do I Remove A Tick From My Dog
Check your pet immediately after it has been in a tick-infected area. The deer tick is a small tick and only about pinhead size in juvenile stage, but is a little more obvious in the adult phase and after feeding. If you find a tick moving on your pet, the tick has not fed. Remove the tick promptly and place it in rubbing alcohol or crush it between two solid surfaces. If you find a tick attached to your pet, grasp the tick with fine tweezers or your finger nails near the dog’s skin and firmly pull it straight out. There are also tools available called Tick Twister® or Tick Key® which can be useful. However, take care to use them cautiously as twisting or jerking the tick may cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. See your veterinarian if you are unsure or unable to remove the tick from your dog.
Make sure you protect your fingers from exposure by using a tissue or a disposable glove.You may need another person to help restrain your dog. Removing the tick quickly is important since the disease does not appear to be transmitted until the tick has fed for approximately 12 hours. If you crush the tick, do not get the tick’s contents, including blood, on your skin.
Note: The bacterium that causes Lyme disease can pass through a wound or cut in your skin.