Current Diagnostics Miss Up To 60% Of Acute Cases
The current gold standard diagnostic for Lyme disease is a two-tiered ELISA/Western Blot blood test measuring human antibodies against Borrelia burgdorferi. This diagnostic is an indirect measure of infection, detecting the bodys immunologic response to infection rather than detecting the Lyme bacteria itself. It misses up to 60% of cases of early-stage Lyme disease, as it can take weeks for the body to develop measurable antibodies against the infection.
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 can be found in any areas with deep or overgrown plants where they have access to animals to feed on.
Theyre common in woodland and moorland areas, but can also be found in gardens or parks.
Ticks dont jump or fly. They climb on to your clothes or skin if you brush against something theyre on. They then bite into the skin and start to feed on your blood.
Generally, youre 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.
Can One Die Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is an inflammatory disease typically marked by a fever, headache, chills, and bulls-eye rash, and later by arthritis, cardiac, and neurological disorders, caused by bacteria that are spread by ticks. Lyme disease is common in North America, Europe, and Asia and is caused by the bacterium borrelia burgdorfi, and infected ticks spread the disease by biting people and/or animals. There are two kinds of ticks that carry Lyme disease in the U.S. They are the deer tick, found in the Northeast and Midwest, and the western black-legged tick, predominantly found along the Pacific coast in northern California and Oregon.
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Lyme Disease Spreads In Humans When People Get Bitten By Tiny Vampires
Lyme is the most common vector-borne disease in the US, more common than West Nile or Zika virus. But unlike Zika, which is transmitted from mosquitoes to humans, the bacteria that causes Lyme, Borrelia burgdorferi, reaches people through tick bites after moving through a chain of other species.
B. burgdorferi typically live in mice, chipmunks, birds, and deer in wooded areas. And these are all animals that ticks feast on. The tick is in fact quite vampire-like not an insect, but in the same family as the spider, mite, and scorpion and progresses through its three life stages fueled by the blood of mammals.
That includes humans. Theyre attracted to the warmth and carbon dioxide we give off. Though they cant jump or fly, they typically crawl onto us when we brush against them walking through tall grass, playing in fields. If the ticks are carrying Lyme or other pathogens, they can infect us when they bite.
According to the CDC, common Lyme symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle and joint aches. Theres also that telltale skin rash, which manifests in a ring shape on the body but not everybody who has Lyme gets a rash or even the bulls-eye on their body.
In some patients, even those who have been treated for Lyme, symptoms can persist for months and researchers dont fully understand why. More on chronic Lyme next and why its still controversial.
What Is The Treatment For Lyme Disease
The first-line standard of care treatment for adults with Lyme disease is doxycycline, a tetracycline antibiotic. Other antibiotics that have activity against borrelia include the penicillin-like antibiotic, amoxicillin, and the second generation cephalosporin, Ceftin. The mainstay of treatment is with oral antibiotics, but intravenous antibiotics are sometimes indicated for more difficult to treat cases of neurologic-Lyme disease, such as meningitis, and cases of late Lyme arthritis.
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What Is Lyme Disease And Can You Die From It
Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and less commonly in other joints such as the ankle, elbow and wrists. In rare cases, Lyme disease can lead to death usually because of complications involving infection of the heart. You may experience symptoms that last months to years after treatment.
What Is End Stage Lyme Disease
There are several different types of treatment for Lyme disease. The most important is to start treating the symptoms as soon as possible. Early Lyme disease is usually treatable with oral or intravenous antibiotics. However, some patients may need longer treatments, such as intravenous antibiotics or long-term antibiotics.
Early Lyme disease is the earliest stage of the disease, meaning the bacteria have not spread throughout the body. This stage of infection generally starts days or weeks after the initial tick bite. The first symptom is usually a bullseye-shaped rash. Around two-thirds of Lyme disease patients develop this rash.
Other signs and symptoms of later stages of the disease include severe headache and stiff neck. If these symptoms persist, you should see a doctor. You should also visit your doctor if you experience unexplained fatigue, heart or neurologic symptoms, or if the pain persists for more than two weeks.
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British Columbia Specific Information
Ticks are tiny bugs which feed on blood. For information on ticks, removing ticks, and how to avoid being bitten, see HealthLinkBC File #01 Tick Bites and Disease. You may also be interested in the HealthLinkBC File #96 Insect Repellent and DEET.
While most tick bites do not result in diseases, some can. Some of the diseases passed on by ticks include relapsing fever, tularemia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever , Q Fever and anaplasmosis. The most well-known is Lyme disease. For more information on Lyme Disease, visit BC Centre for Disease Control â Lyme Disease .
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Lyme Disease Infection Timeline
Infection time: 24 to 36 HoursIn order to be infected by a tick bite, a tick must be attached for at least 24 hours. If you think thats a long time to not even know you have a tick on you, think again. Nymph ticks are so tiny, they often go unnoticed. Thats why they are the biggest spreaders of Lyme infection. Its easy for a person or a pet to have a tick attached for 24 to 36 hours unnoticed. Some people never know they had a tick attached at all!
Early symptoms begin to show: Within 30 DaysIf a person shows early symptoms of Lyme, it usually occurs within 30 days after infection. The problem is, many never show symptoms, or overlook their symptoms. People, who work outdoors, or spend lots of recreational time outdoors, should be mindful of potential early onset Lyme disease symptoms. Fever, fatigue, and body aches are among the most common symptoms, as well as a bulls eye rash around the tick bite. If symptoms do not occur within 30 days, they can be more severe. Early Lyme disease can be cured with doxycycline. The length of treatment will depend on whether the infection is localized or has begun to spread through the body.
See more tick and Lyme disease questions and answers:
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What Is The Chance Of Getting Lyme Disease
The first question a person might ask is, How much do I risk getting Lyme disease? The answer depends on your health, but the best way to avoid infection is to keep yourself healthy and out of the woods. A good way to do this is to protect yourself by avoiding tick bites, and by wearing protective clothing.
Lyme disease is an infection caused by a type of bacteria carried by ticks. The only way to get this disease is to be bitten by an infected tick. Most people are exposed to ticks during their time outdoors, especially in green spaces. Although the symptoms of Lyme disease will not appear immediately, you can take precautions to avoid getting bitten by ticks and reduce your risk of infection.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, and there is no vaccine to protect against it. However, you can use protective anti-body treatment to fight against the disease. Although the vaccines have a small protective effect, the results can vary. Some people are protected for several years, but later become re-infected by an infected tick. It is important to avoid getting bitten by ticks and to follow public health guidelines.
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.
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What Can A Workplace Or Home Do To Reduce The Presence Of Ticks
Keep the lawn and yard well maintained to prevent ticks from living near the home or workplace.
- Keep the grass mowed. Trim trees and shrubs.
- Remove leaf litter, brush, and weeds at the edge of the lawn, and around stonewalls and woodpiles.
- Clean up and seal stonewalls and small openings around the home to help discourage rodents.
- Keep stacked firewood piles and bird feeders away from buildings.
- Keep any pets, particularly dogs, out of the woods and talk to your veterinarian about tick repellents for your pets.
- Move childrenâs swing sets and sandboxes away from the woodlandâs edge and use a woodchip or mulch foundation.
- Consider using hard landscape items such as woodchips, mulch, stones, gravel, tile, or metals.
- Create a border or barrier between the lawn, woods, or stonewalls to discourage deer and rodent activity.
- Widen woodland trails.
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What Tests Are Used To Diagnose B Mayonii
Your healthcare provider may order a blood test to look for infection. Limited available information suggests that patients with B. mayonii infection develop antibodies that are similar to those of patients infected with B. burgdorferi. Therefore, Lyme disease serologic testing may help in diagnosing patients with B. mayonii. In some cases, B. mayonii bacteria may also be seen on a blood smear. Infection with B. mayonii can be specifically identified by Lyme disease molecular tests at Mayo Clinic. Lyme disease, including infection with B. mayonii, can be diagnosed without testing when patients have signs and symptoms consistent with Lyme disease and a history of possible exposure to blacklegged ticks.
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Late Persistent Lyme Disease
If Lyme disease isnât promptly or effectively treated, damage to the joints, nerves, and brain may develop months or years after you become infected. It is the last and often the most serious stage of the disease.
Symptoms at this stage may include:
- Arthritis that most often affects the knee. A small number of people eventually get chronic Lyme arthritis, which causes recurring episodes of swelling, redness, and fluid buildup in one or more joints that last up to 6 months at a time.
- Numbness and tingling in the hands, feet, or back.
- Feeling very tired.
- Not being able to control the muscles of the face.
- Problems with memory, mood, or sleep, and sometimes problems speaking.
- Heart problems, which are rare but can occur months to even years after you are bitten by an infected tick. The most serious heart problemssuch as inflammation of the structures surrounding the heart usually resolve without any lifelong damage. Unfortunately, heart problems can be the first sign of Lyme disease in a small number of people who didnât have early symptoms.
Stage 2 and stage 3 symptoms may be the first signs of Lyme disease in people who didnât have a rash or other symptoms of early infection.
What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
The list of possible symptoms is long, and symptoms can affect every part of the body. The following are the most common symptoms of Lyme disease. But symptoms are slightly different for each person.
The primary symptom is a red rash that:
Can appear several days after infection, or not at all
Can last up to several weeks
Can be very small or grow very large , and may resemble a “bulls-eye”
Can mimic such skin problems as hives, eczema, sunburn, poison ivy, and flea bites
Can itch or feel hot, or may not be felt at all
Can disappear and return several weeks later
Several days or weeks after a bite from an infected tick, you may have flu-like symptoms such as the following:
Weeks to months after the bite, the following symptoms may develop:
Neurological symptoms, including inflammation of the nervous system and weakness and paralysis of the facial muscles
Heart problems, including inflammation of the heart and problems with heart rate
Eye problems, including inflammation
Months to a few years after a bite, the following symptoms may include:
Inflammation of the joints
Neurological symptoms including numbness in the extremities, tingling and pain, and difficulties with speech, memory, and concentration
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.
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Lyme Disease Led To My Daughters Death Join The Fight Against Tick
Jody Hudson, Alex Hudson Lyme Foundation: With one unnoticed bite, Alex Hudson had gone from a healthy athletic 12-year-old bundle of energy to bearing a decade-long burden of an incapacitating and unknown disease. I still have many questions about how Alexs condition could have gone undiagnosed for so long. But I choose to look forward in making a positive change, and not look back at what should have happened in her case.
How Do I Know If I Have A Tick Bite
Many people who develop the disease do not remember seeing ticks or being bitten. Tick bites commonly occur from May to September in North America, although blacklegged ticks can be active most of the year. Ticks sometimes move around on the body but they usually attach themselves to the skin and stay in one place. Before feeding, ticks look like small, brown scabs or freckles. After feeding, ticks may swell considerably, and could be as big as a raisin or a small grape.
Follow the link for more information about blacklegged ticks from the Government of Canada.
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Lyme Can Be Difficult To Diagnose Which Has Led To An Ongoing Controversy About Chronic Lyme Disease
Lyme can, in some cases, be really difficult to diagnose. Up to 30 percent of people never get a rash. Many cant recall a tick bite. The blood tests approved by the Food and Drug Administration only look for Lyme antibodies or evidence that a persons immune system has fought off the disease.
This means that people who get the test too early may have a false negative because there arent enough antibodies in their system to show up in the test. People who get the test late may have a false positive, after their bodies have fought off the infection.
So doctors are often left to diagnose the disease on the basis of clinical symptoms that can be really vague.
Its very unfortunate we dont have a good test for active infection, said Brian Fallon, the director of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University. If we did, we wouldnt have all these controversies about what to do with patients who have chronic Lyme symptoms.
The main controversy hes referring to stems from the fact that there are many patients who feel the medical establishment doesnt recognize their lived experience with Lyme.
From a clinical perspective, was not all that helpful, Fallon explained. Some patients fell outside of it, and felt the term was discounting persistent infection as the cause of their symptoms.
Lyme Prevention Is Possible
There is no Lyme disease vaccine, but there are methods of prevention. Wearing long sleeves and pants when hiking, camping, or working will offer personal tick protection. Wearing clothes treated with permethrin can also help keep ticks away.
At home Lyme prevention is available through reputable tick control companies. Professional Central Mass tick control companies will offer a choice between repellents and insecticides. Repellents will keep ticks away from your yard. EPA-registered pesticides will eliminate ticks. Repellents and insecticides are available in time-released formulas. Time released tick control will give you about two or three weeks of protection at home.
Dont forget to protect your home year-round. Tick tubes offer extended tick control through the fall and winter. Employing this kind of tick control will result in less ticks on your property in the springtime.
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