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Lyme Disease Effects On Body

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Symptoms Of Early Stage Lyme Disease

What Does Lyme Disease Do To Your Body?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , early-stage Lyme disease symptoms crop up within 3 to 30 days after exposure and can include but are not limited to:

  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Erythema migrans , a bulls-eye-shaped rash that appears at the site of the tick bite

Early Lyme disease does not always appear the same in all patients. For example, up to 30% of patients dont remember experiencing a bulls eye rash.

Babesia And Lyme Its Worse Than You Think

Babesia, a tick-borne infection that causes malaria-like symptoms, has been making headlines over the past two years as the number of reported cases increases, and concerns grow over the seriousness of the disease and its ability to be transmitted through the blood supply.

Although Lyme disease is the most talked about tick-transmitted disease, Babesia is more common than you might think. In the 2015 issue of Trends in Parasitology, Diuk-Wasser and colleagues report that up to 40% of patients with Lyme disease experienced concurrent Babesiosis.

This means that out of the estimated 300,000 cases of Lyme disease reported annually in the U.S., 120,000 of those individuals may also have Babesia. This is particularly alarming given that the disease can go undetected in asymptomatic individuals and is transmissible through blood transfusions or congenitally. Additionally, Babesia requires different treatment than Lyme disease.

The Babesia microti parasite that leads to Babesia is commonly seen in blacklegged deer ticks. But according to the authors, its also common to find ticks and enzootic hosts carrying both Borrelia burgdorferi and B. microti. In fact, between 12% and 42% of rodents are co-infected with both agents. This would suggest that coinfection provides a survival advantage for both pathogens.

Babesia difficult to diagnose

Lyme Disease: Signs And Symptoms

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Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented

To prevent Lyme disease, you should lower your risk of getting a tick bite:

  • Avoid areas where ticks live, such as grassy, brushy, or wooded areas. If you are hiking, walk in the center of the trail to avoid brush and grass.
  • Use an insect repellent with DEET
  • Treat your clothing and gear with a repellant containing 0.5% permethrin
  • Wear light-colored protective clothing, so you can easily see any ticks that get on you
  • Wear a long-sleeve shirt and long pants. Also tuck your shirt into your pants and your pant legs into your socks.
  • Check yourself, your children, and your pets daily for ticks. Carefully remove any ticks you find.
  • Take a shower and wash and dry your clothes at high temperatures after being outdoors

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

How Is The Body Affected By Lyme Disease

What Are The Effects Of Lyme Disease On The Body

Lyme disease is caused by the transfer of bacteria in the human by the vector. Ticks are the vectors and the reservoir for these bacteria is mice and deer. The bacteria enter in the ticks when they feed on the reservoir. When these vector ticks feed on the humans, the bacteria multiply and enter in to the human. Various immunological reactions occur in the body against the bacteria which results in fever and inflammation and also neurology and cardiac effects. The bacteria may also evade the immune system b changing the surface antigen so that immune cells are unable to recognize the bacteria.

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What Is Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi. In humans, this infection can only be spread via parasitic tick bitesânot air, water, or other animals.

With 34,945 diagnosed cases in 2019, Lyme disease is not exactly rare. Thatâs why itâs important to know which conditions allow the infected tick to pass this disease to humans, such as:

  • Location â Where is Lyme disease common? In the US, the black-legged tick and the western black-legged tick can transfer Lyme disease. These species are found in grassy and wooded environments across the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, upper Midwest, and upper Pacific coast.
  • Season â Like most insects, ticks thrive during the warmer months. Lyme disease transmission and diagnoses go up during spring, summer, and early fall.
  • Timing â To spread the bacteria, infected ticks must latch onto the body for at least 36 hours. Thatâs why most humans are infected by nymphs, or small immature ticks, which can go incognito on the body. If you remove a tick before 36 hours, you may reduce the risk of infection.

Once transmitted, Lyme disease can manifest in a few different symptoms. Letâs explore the signs to look for, so you can catch the condition early.

Protecting Property From Tick Infestation

To decrease the tick population around your yard:

  • Clear the yard regularly by raking leaves, trimming bushes, pruning low-lying branches, mowing lawn.
  • Create a 3-foot wide barrier around the perimeter of your lawn with wood chips, gravel, or mulch.
  • Place cardboard tubes stuffed with permethrin-treated cotton in places where mice can find them. These tubes are available in hardware stores. Mice collect the cotton for lining their nests the pesticide on the cotton kills any immature ticks that feed on the mice. For best results, do several tube applications from early to late summer.
  • Erect fences or use repellants or deer-resistant plants to keep deer away.
  • Consider spraying once a year a small amount of tick-killing insecticide such as permethrin or bifenthrin around the perimeter of your yard. To avoid health and environmental risks, consult a licensed professional experienced with tick control.

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Signs And Symptoms Of Untreated Lyme Disease

Seek medical attention if you observe any of these symptoms and have had a tick bite, live in an area known for Lyme disease, or have recently traveled to an area where Lyme disease occurs.

Untreated Lyme disease can produce a wide range of symptoms, depending on the stage of infection. These include fever, rash, facial paralysis, and arthritis.

The appearance of the erythema migrans rash can vary widely.

  • Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes may occur in the absence of rash
  • Erythema migrans rash :
  • Occurs in approximately 70 to 80 percent of infected persons
  • Begins at the site of a tick bite after a delay of 3 to 30 days
  • Expands gradually over several days reaching up to 12 inches or more across
  • May feel warm to the touch but is rarely itchy or painful
  • Sometimes clears as it enlarges, resulting in a target or bulls-eye appearance
  • May appear on any area of the body
  • Does not always appear as a classic erythema migrans rash

Swollen Knee

  • Severe headaches and neck stiffness
  • Additional EM rashes on other areas of the body
  • Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints.
  • Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
  • Heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat
  • Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord

Links with this icon indicate that you are leaving the CDC website.

Which Organs Can Lyme Disease Damage

Think the Lyme Disease Rash is Always a Bull’s-eye? Think Again! | Johns Hopkins Rheumatology

Although Lyme can cause damage to allorgans in the body, the most notable organs are the brain and heart. When itattacks the brain and central nervous system, patients can suffer cognitiveimpairment such as memory loss, poor concentration, problems with sleep, andvarious mood changes. The disease does this by crossing the blood-brain barrier and multiplying and inhibiting the proper function and transferof blood and oxygen to where it needs to be.

Lyme carditis is the disorder that occurswhen the bacteria that causes Lyme makes its way into the heart tissue. When itdoes, it wreaks havoc on the communication system and electrical signals fromthe upper and lower chambers of the heart, resulting in light-headedness,fainting, heart palpitations, and an abnormal heartbeat.

Because the cells of the bacteria thatcause Lyme disease are able to disguise themselves under a biofilm, the immunesystems ability to properly attack the actual infection is threatened. Thiscauses the released immune cells to attack the body instead of the bacteria.Lyme disease bacteria cells also have a way of hiding in plain sight, meaningthat if theres too much of a threat to their existence, they can lay dormantuntil theyre able to flourish again. This leads to the illness becomingchronic and harder to treat in the long run, which aids in the bacterias waron the body and all organs.

Featured image byRobina Weermeijer on Unsplash

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Chronic Lyme Disease Symptom Severity

In LDos chronic Lyme disease survey, over 75% of patients reported at least one symptom as severe or very severe and 63% reported two or more such symptoms. Find out more about LDo peer-reviewed published surveys. The chart below shows the severity of ten common chronic Lyme symptoms.

The survey also found that patients with chronic Lyme disease have high disability and unemployment rates. Over 40% of patients with chronic Lyme disease reported that they currently are unable to work because of Lyme disease and 24% report that they have received disability at some point in their illness.

What If A Tick Bites My Dog

The more ticks in your region, the likelier it is that your furry pal will bring them home.

Your dog is much more likely to be bitten by a tick than you are. And where Lyme disease is common, up to 25% of dogs have had it at some point.

About 10% of dogs with Lyme disease will get sick. 7-21 days after a tick bite, your dog might seem like theyâre walking on eggshells. They also might have a fever and enlarged lymph nodes. Plus, they might seem tired. Dogs also get antibiotics for Lyme.

What if my dog brings ticks into my home?

Use a tick control product on your pet to prevent Lyme disease. Also, have your dog vaccinated against Lyme.

Check your dogâs whole body each day for bumps. If you notice a swollen area, see if thereâs a tick there. If you find a tick, wear gloves while you use tweezers to separate it from your dog. Then, put it in soapy water or alcohol, or flush it down the toilet.

Use alcohol to clean the spot on your dog where the tick was attached. Keep an eye on that spot, and also on your dog to make sure theyâre behaving normally. If you notice any changes, check with your vet.

Show Sources

John Aucott, MD, assistant professor of medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine director, Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center.


Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: âVital Signs: Trends in Reported Vectorborne Disease Cases United States and Territories, 2004-2016.â

American College of Rheumatology.

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What Does Lyme Disease Do To The Body

When a tick transfers Lyme to a humanduring feeding, the virus spreads through the bloodstream. It does this whenthe bacteria grabs hold of blood vessels and moves along inside the bloodstreamto areas of the body that will allow it to thrive. It is essentially the sameprocess as the immune cells in the body that are meant to ward off infectiousdiseases.

Once it reaches the areas where it ismost likely to survive, it sets up shop and begins attacking the system,including the nervous system, until it is either fought off with antibiotics orprogresses, leading to serious complications down the line.

Image by on : The bacteria that causes Lyme disease is a master imitator.

Lyme Disease Effects On The Brain

Effects Of Untreated Lyme Disease

The first section of Lyme Brain discusses the fundamentals. What actually causes this condition? Research has shown that Lyme spirochetes can invade the brain and wreak all kinds of havoc. They damage nerve cells, trigger inflammation, release neurotoxins, and disrupt the balance of brain chemicals.

Ducharme lays all this out in plain language. She also explains how co-infections contribute to Lyme disease brain:

One of the reasons I believe that the actual brain fog, memory issues and difficulty with focus and concentration is Borrelia driven is because when I treat my patients with medications that primarily impact Borrelia and cross the blood-brain barrier, I see these symptoms improve, whereas the insomnia and wacky dreams tend to respond more to Babesia treatment. Really extreme psychiatric symptoms such as rages, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors, respond mostly to Bartonella treatment.

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Pearls And Other Issues

Based on the geographic distribution of the shared vector Ixodes scapularis, co-infections with Lyme disease and human granulocytic anaplasmosis and/or babesiosis can occur. Co-infected patients may be more severely ill at presentation, have a persistent fever longer than 48 hours after initiating antibiotic therapy for Lyme disease, or present with anemia, leukopenia, and/or thrombocytopenia. When co-infection is suspected or confirmed, treatment with an appropriate antimicrobial regimen for each infection is necessary for resolution of illness.

What Are The Treatments For Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics. The earlier you are treated, the better it gives you the best chance of fully recovering quickly.

After treatment, some patients may still have pain, fatigue, or difficulty thinking that lasts more than 6 months. This is called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome . Researchers don’t know why some people have PTLDS. There is no proven treatment for PTLDS long-term antibiotics have not been shown to help. However, there are ways to help with the symptoms of PTLDS. If you have been treated for Lyme disease and still feel unwell, contact your health care provider about how to manage your symptoms. Most people do get better with time. But it can take several months before you feel all better.

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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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Why Does Lyme Disease Affect The Immune System

How Dangerous Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease triggers autoimmune issues within the body and will begin to interfere with tissues such as the thyroid. Your immune system will start to attack your own body, causing various autoimmune symptoms such as inflammation. If left untreated, the disease may cause chronic inflammatory issues and autoimmune illness.

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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.

Ruling Out Other Diseases

Many other infections and medical conditions can produce fever, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue, including a very wide variety of common, generally benign viral illnesses. They can also produce some of the neurologic or cardiac features characteristic of early Lyme disease. The same tick that causes Lyme disease can also transmit other infections.

Co-Infections Transmitted by the Ixodes Tick

Babesiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever , and human granulocytic anaplasmosis are transmitted by the same tick that carries Lyme disease. People may be co-infected with one or more of these infections, all of which can cause flu-like symptoms. If these symptoms persist and there is no rash, it is less likely that Lyme disease is present.

Other Tick-Borne Infections

A number of other tick-borne diseases may resemble Lyme disease. The most important of these is southern tick-associated rash illness , which is caused by the bite of the Lone star tick, usually in southern and Southeastern parts of the United States. It causes a rash very similar to Lyme disease. The bacterium responsible for STARI remains unknown, but may be B. lonestari.

Allergic Reactions and Insect Bites

Other Diseases

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