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.
Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented
Most people with Lyme disease get the infection during the late spring, summer and early fall when immature ticks are out feeding. In warm climates, few tick bites take place during winter months.
Deer ticks are most often found in wooded areas and nearby grasslands. Theyre especially common where the two areas merge, including neighborhood yards where deer occasionally roam. Ticks dont survive long on sunny lawns. They dry out quickly and die.
Although only about 1% of all deer ticks carry Lyme disease-causing bacteria, there are areas in which over 50% of the ticks carry the bacterium. The diseased ticks are often found in the U.S. Northeast and upper Midwest areas. Ticks also live in coastal areas.
Black-legged ticks can get the infection from animals other than deer. Mice, voles and some squirrels can carry the bacteria.
How can I prevent tick bites?
The following tips can help you avoid tick bites:
Two Standards Of Care For Lyme Disease Treatment
There is significant controversy in science, medicine, and public policy regarding Lyme disease. Two medical societies hold widely divergent views on the best approach to diagnosing and treating Lyme disease. The conflict makes it difficult for patients to be properly diagnosed and receive treatment.
One medical society, the Infectious Diseases Society of America , regards Lyme disease as hard to catch and easy to cure with a short course of antibiotics. IDSA claims that spirochetal infection cannot persist in the body after a short course of antibiotics. The group also denies the existence of chronic Lyme disease.
In contrast, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society , regards Lyme disease as often difficult to diagnose and treat, resulting in persistent infection in many patients. ILADS recommends individualized treatment based on the severity of symptoms, the presence of tick-borne coinfections and patient response to treatment.
LDo believes that patients and their doctors should make Lyme disease treatment decisions together. This requires that patients be given sufficient information about the risks and benefits of different treatment options. Then, patient and health care provider can collaborate to reach an informed decision, based on the patients circumstances, beliefs and preferences.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Signs and symptoms of early Lyme disease typically include:
- A reddish rash or skin lesion known as erythema migraines . The rash starts as a small red spot at the site of the tick bite anywhere from one week after to four weeks after the bite. The spot expands over a period of days or weeks, forming a circular, triangular or oval-shaped rash. The rash may look like a bulls eye because it appears as a red ring that surrounds a clear center area. The rash can range in size from that of a dime to the entire width of a person’s back. As infection spreads, several EM rashes can appear at different sites on your body.
Signs and symptoms of the second stage of Lyme disease may include:
- Multiple areas of rash.
- Paralysis of facial muscles .
- Heart block or an interruption of the electrical system of the heart.
- Areas of numbness or abnormal feelings .
Signs and symptoms of untreated late Lyme disease, which may happen from months to a year after infection, may include:
- Recurring episodes of swollen joints . This typically affects large joints like the knee.
- Difficulty concentrating, known as brain fog. This is a form of encephalopathy or damage to the brain.
- Damage to nerves all over your body, including your skin, muscles and organs .
The Truth About Antibiotic Treatments
Until recently, many doctors in Canada tended to prescribe only one round of antibiotics, irrespective of the stage of infection. However, current research suggests that a single course of antibiotics is often insufficient for treating Lyme disease, especially if the infection has been untreated for several months.
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The Increasing Threat Of Plague In The United States
Plague, an ancient and highly contagious arthropod-borne disease, is on the rise in the United States. What causes a trend? The most common cause of plague is a bacterial infection transmitted by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Despite the fact that Lyme disease rarely causes death, it can be debilitating and even fatal. The tick is an important component of Lyme disease, which helps to spread the infection from the mammalian host to the arthropod vector. In addition to these arthropod-borne diseases, California encephalitis, Chikungunya, dengue, Eastern equine encephalitis, and Powassan are among the other diseases that can be contracted by them. These diseases are preventable, and you should learn about them and protect yourself by wearing insect repellents and proper clothing.
Symptoms Of Post Treatment Lyme Disease
- Include severe fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, & cognitive problems
- Can significantly impact patients health and quality of life
- Can be debilitating and prolonged
Our research indicates the chronic symptom burden related to PTLD is significant. Although often invisible to others, the negative impact on quality of life and daily functioning is substantial for PTLD sufferers.
The chronic symptom burden related to Lyme disease is considerable, as shown on the left side of the graph above, and statistically significantly greater than the aches and pains of daily living experienced by the control group, on the right.
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What’s The Best Way To Prevent A Tick Bite
Ticks can’t fly or jump. But they live in shrubs and bushes and can grab onto you when you pass by. To avoid getting bitten:
- Wear pants and socks in areas with lots of trees and when you touch fallen leaves.
- Wear a tick repellent on your skin and clothing that has DEET, lemon oil, or eucalyptus.
- For even more protection, use the chemical permethrin on clothing and camping gear.
- Shower within 2 hours after coming inside. Look for ticks on your skin, and wash ticks out of your hair.
- Put your clothing and any exposed gear into a hot dryer to kill whatever pests might be on them.
How do you know if you’ve been bitten?
Since ticks are so small, you’ve got to have pretty good eyes to see them.
If you have a small, red bump on your skin that looks like a mosquito bite, it could be a tick bite. If it goes away in a few days, itâs not a problem. Remember, a tick bite doesnât necessarily mean you have Lyme disease.
If you notice a rash in the shape of a bull’s-eye, you might have a tick bite. Talk to your doctor about treatment.
If you have an allergic reaction to ticks, you’ll notice a bite right away.
What Causes Lyme Disease In A Child
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria that are spread to people by tick bites. The ticks that carry the bacteria are:
- Black-legged deer tick. These are found in the Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic, and North-Central U.S.
- Western black-legged tick. These are found on the West Coast of the U.S.
Not all ticks carry the Lyme disease bacteria. Depending on the location, less than 1 in 100 to more than half of ticks in that area may be infected with Lyme.
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Lyme Disease: Resolving The Lyme Wars
Its finally getting warm here in New England, and most of us have plans to enjoy the beautiful weather. And thats why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report raising awareness about how to prevent the tickborne infections that typically occur during this time of the year. Lyme disease is probably the most well-known, and the one for which diagnosis and treatment are most controversial.
Cdc Supports The Development Of New Tests
New tests may be developed as alternatives to one or both steps of the two-step process. Before CDC will recommend new tests, they must be cleared by the Food and Drug Administration . For more details, see: Recommendations for Test Performance and Interpretation from the Second National Conference on Serologic Diagnosis of Lyme Disease.
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My Long Road To A Lyme Diagnosis
I could write a freakin book about my pre-diagnosis Lyme experience. Not to sound dramatic, but it was basically a nightmare playing out in slow motion. For your own sanity, Ill give you the condensed version.
Personally, I dont remember a tick bite, and like many Lyme sufferers, I never got the bulls-eye rash or flu-like symptoms so often touted as classic signs of Lyme disease. Instead, my whole ordeal began with a sharp, stinging sensation in my left ankle after a day of walking in New York City, where Id just begun my first big girl job. It hurt, but I didnt think much of it, and about a week later I was told I had tendinitis that would resolve relatively quickly. But then my other ankle started to hurt, and after a few months, the pain extended to the bottoms of my feet, my knees, and even my arms. Sometimes it would feel like electric currents were running through my toes when I stood up. After a while, I began to question my tendinitis diagnosis, but after about five second opinions and countless tests , doctors had no real explanation for what was going on. In the words of one of my least favorite doctors, Theres nothing else I can do for you.
What Causes Chronic Lyme Disease
No one knows what causes chronic Lyme disease. One theory is the infection damages tissues or alters the immune system.
Some pain experts think the immune systemâs reaction to the Lyme infection causes changes that increase pain sensations and contribute to fatigue and poor sleep.
More research is underway.
No matter the cause, the symptoms are real. But most patients get better over time.
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Key Points For Healthcare Providers
Can We Test Fluids Other Than Serum
Yes, CSF samples can be submitted from horses with neurological signs. The CSF sample needs to be submitted together with a serum sample from the same animal and taken at the same time. The relative increase of antibodies in CSF can indicate local production of antibodies in the CNS. Typically, one or two antibody values are increased more than 2-fold if B. burgdorferi contributes to the neurologic condition.
For other samples, contact the lab first .
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When To See A Healthcare Provider
Prompt treatment for Lyme disease reduces the risk of lingering symptoms and complications. If youve already been treated with antibiotics but continue to experience issues, talk to your healthcare provider to determine if additional treatment is necessary. Patience and proactive communication with your healthcare professional will help you get back to your usual state of health.
What Is The Fastest Way To Cure Lyme Disease
However, some studies have found that courses lasting 10 to 14 days are equally effective, whereas antibiotics should be taken every 14 to 21 days. Antibiotics that can be given in an IV are intravenously administered. If the disease is caused by the central nervous system, you may be asked by your doctor to take an intravenous antibiotic for 14 to 28 days.
Doxycycline, a tetracycline antibiotic, is the first line of defense against Lyme disease. By preferentially entering the bacteria, antibiotics kill bacteria that are causing the residual infection, giving the human host immune response a chance to take over and eradicate it. As a result of Lyme disease, a persons health and quality of life can suffer greatly. As part of a study, researchers looked at patients who remained significantly ill for more than 6 months following standard antibiotic therapy for Lyme disease and had not responded to treatments. The severity of the initial illness, as well as the presence of neurologic symptoms, can all increase your risk of PTLD. Post-treatment Lyme Disease is a serious and impairing condition that develops after treatment. PTLD can be caused by a variety of factors, but they are not well understood.
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Are There Alternative Treatments For Lyme Disease
There are a variety of alternative treatments aimed at patients who believe they may have Lyme disease. But the effectiveness of these treatments is not supported by scientific evidence, and in many cases they are potentially harmful.
Bismacine, also known as chromacine, is an alternative-medicine drug that some people use to treat their Lyme disease.
The Food and Drug Administration warns that people should not use this injectable product, which has reportedly caused hospitalization and at least one death. 70563-1.pdf” rel=”nofollow”> 6)
In addition, the FDA notes that bismacine contains high levels of bismuth, which can cause heart and kidney failure.
Other alternative treatments include oxygen therapy, light therapy, and a variety of nutritional or herbal supplements. But there is no evidence that these treatments are clinically effective in the treatment of Lyme disease.
Get An Accurate Diagnosis
To get an accurate diagnosis, you must first find the right doctor specializing in Lyme disease. Do the research and look for a doctor who has extensive knowledge, licensure and certification, and a high success rate working with patients.
This doctor may not be in the United States. One of the most well-renowned infectious diseases clinics is Lyme Mexico.
You may be thinking you cant travel to Mexico for help, but you can. You can spend the same amount of time and money visiting multiple doctors near your home without results. Or, you can meet with a top expert in Lyme disease and receive the treatment that gives you back the life you deserve.
Lyme literate doctors have modern and more aggressive treatments to help heal your Lyme disease. Lyme specialists not only know about more aggressive treatments, but they also provide them in their clinics on an outpatient basis.
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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.
Can Lyme Disease Be Cured
Most Lyme disease cases can be cured with a two- to four-week course of antibiotics, says Dr. Kaufman. This is especially true if youre treated in the early stages of infection, which is why its so important to be aware of any potential exposure and symptoms.
In rare cases, however, some patients will continue experiencing symptoms such as pain, fatigue and numbness, and will be diagnosed with post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Post Treatment Lyme Disease
Risk factors for Post Treatment Lyme Disease include:
- Delay in diagnosis
- Increased severity of initial illness
- Presence of neurologic symptoms
Increased severity of initial illness, the presence of neurologic symptoms, and initial misdiagnosis increase the risk of Post Treatment Lyme Disease. PTLD is especially common in people that have had neurologic involvement. The rates of Post Treatment Lyme Disease after neurologic involvement may be as high as 20% or even higher. Other risk factors being investigated are genetic predispositions and immunologic variables.
In addition to Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, there are several other tick-borne co-infections that may also contribute to more prolonged and complicated illness.
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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