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.
What Is Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. B. burgdorferi is transmitted to humans by a bite from an infected black-legged or deer tick. The tick becomes infected after feeding on infected deer, birds, or mice.
A tick has to be present on the skin for at least 36 hours to transmit the infection. Many people with Lyme disease have no memory of a tick bite.
Lyme disease was first recognized in the town of Old Lyme, Connecticut, in 1975. Its the most common tickborne illness in Europe and the United States.
People who live or spend time in wooded areas known for transmission of the disease are more likely to get this illness. People with domesticated animals that visit wooded areas also have a higher risk of getting Lyme disease.
Diagnosis Of Lyme Disease
to take a sample of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord . Fragments of the bacteriaâs genetic material may be present and detected using the polymerase chain reaction technique Polymerase chain reaction Genetic diagnostic technologies are scientific methods that are used to understand and evaluate an organism’s genes. Genes are segments of deoxyribonucleic… read more . This technique produces many copies of a gene and enables doctors to identify Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria rapidly.
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What Should I Do If I Find A Tick On My Child
Don’t panic. First Lyme disease is spread by the black-legged tick, not by the larger and more-common dog tick. The risk of developing Lyme disease after a black-legged tick bite is low, especially if the tick has been attached for a short time.
If you find a tick on your child, remove it using a fine-tipped pair of tweezers. Grasp the body of the tick and pull in an upward motion until the tick comes out. Do not squeeze or twist the ticks body. Take note of the ticks size and color, and how long you think it has been attached to your child.
If your child has been bitten by a black-legged tick that has been attached for more than 24 hours and you are in a Lyme disease endemic area, consult with your pediatrician. In some cases, your child may be prescribed antibiotics to prevent Lyme disease from developing.
Lyme Disease Test And Treatment
If you think you may have Lyme disease, contact your physician right away.
Your doctor may do a test for Lyme disease. The FDA regulates diagnostic tests to ensure that they are safe and effective. Its important to know that blood tests that check for antibodies to the bacterium that causes Lyme disease are not useful if done soon after a tick bite. It typically takes 2 to 5 weeks after a tick bite for initial antibodies to develop.
For this reason, your doctor may recommend treatment with antibiotics before the diagnostic tests are complete. According to the CDC, patients treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely.
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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.
Symptoms Of Late Stage Lyme Disease
Your suffering has moved from an occasional inflammation flare-up to chronic pain in your muscles, tendons, and joints. You may have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis. Your headaches have become severe. You may even experience dizziness or vertigo.
Additional symptoms include a stiff neck, sleep disorders like insomnia, and numbness in your outer extremities. You may also lack the ability to focus, and paying attention when having conversations has become difficult. Your fatigue is so bad you sometimes do not want to attempt getting out of bed.
The worse symptom may be that you have tried to get the right help, but doctors have failed to give you an accurate diagnosis. Because of this, you may feel like you are crazy, or your friends and family may not believe you are in pain.
You may be wondering how you were able to reach late stage Lyme disease without proper treatment.
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It Started With A Tick Bite How I Lost My Husband To Undiagnosed Lyme Disease
It was 2016 when I got a call at work. It was the house alarm company. My husband, Russ, who picked up the kids from school each day, had arrived home and wasnt able to turn the blaring alarm off.
I got home later that day and everything was fine. But I noticed Russ asking repetitive questions. Forgetting what time to pick up the kids. And he couldnt remember the alarm code the same one we had used for years.
In the time leading up to the alarm company incident, things between Russ and me had not been good. He was moody and irritable. He was angry. I thought we were headed toward divorce. But now I know those were the very first signs of tick-borne illness.
Because Russ was very outdoorsy, and because I knew he had ticks on him over the years, Lyme disease was actually one of the first things that came to mind when I started looking into the symptoms of my husbands cognitive decline. The thing was, though, that Russ had never had a fever or a rash associated with ticks that we knew of, and when tested with the standard Lyme screener had come up negative.
An MRI showed no stroke event. A PET scan showed severe deficiencies in metabolism patterns, consistent with late-stage Alzheimers. He was 60.
Russ was tested with a PCR test, the same way we now test for COVID-19, which looked for the organism itself rather than the antibodies. Russ had three tick-borne infections the three Bs as theyre known Borrelia , Bartonella and Babesia.
Lyme Disease: Symptoms And Stages
Symptoms of early-stage Lyme disease include:
- muscle and joint aches
- swollen lymph nodes
Another common symptom of Lyme disease is a rash . As many as 80% of infected people may develop a rash, and roughly 20% of the time the rash has a characteristic bull’s-eye appearance.
When left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
Later-stage symptoms may not appear until weeks or months after a tick bite occurs. They include:
- heart-rhythm irregularities
- nervous system abnormalities
Permanent damage to the joints or the nervous system can develop in patients with late Lyme disease. It is rarely, if ever, fatal.
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Theme : Symptoms And Their Impact
Participants spontaneously described having experienced 25 types of symptoms that they attribute to CLD, covering various domains and varying in their specifics per participant. Participants mentioned symptoms which could be grouped together as fatigue cognitive problems myalgia & arthralgia impaired motor coordination visual and/or auditory impairments and the sensation of an abnormal body temperature .
Participants indicated the unpredictable nature of their illness, experiencing alternating periods of feeling better and feeling worse. They also described their experience that CLD manifests itself in very different and unique ways from person to person, for example with respect to symptoms, modes of treatment that work or do not work, or the course of the illness. Many participants mentioned the invisibility of their symptoms, either as inherent , or resulting from efforts to make them invisible .
P2: And you get antibiotics or whatever treatment, and then it does something, but then after a few months, or a year, or two years, boom: there we go again.
P11: Well, then I thought: Fine, Ill just hide it again, and Ill just keep going. Ill be crazy again. No-one sees this about you, because it is like a sort of invisible handicap.
What Precautions Can I Take Against Tick Bites
- Avoid wooded, brushy, and grassy areas, especially in May, June, and July.
- Wear light-colored clothing so that you can see ticks that get on you.
- Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and shoes that cover the entire foot.
- Tuck pant legs into socks or shoes, and tuck shirts into pants.
- Wear a hat for extra protection.
- Spray insect repellent containing DEET on clothes and uncovered skin.
- Walk in the center of trails to avoid brush and grass.
- Remove your clothing, and wash and dry them at high temperatures after being outdoors.
- Do a careful body check for ticks after outdoor activities.
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Other Causes Of Lyme Disease Symptoms
Sometimes people think they have the symptoms of Lyme disease, but it is a different disease caused by ticks. Diseases caused by tick bites that are known in Australia are:
- Queensland tick typhus
- Q fever
- mammalian meat allergy
Sometimes there is no known diagnosis for symptoms such as fatigue, disordered thinking, disturbances of the senses, joint pain and headaches. These symptoms are real and can be very debilitating. In this case, you doctor will work with you to manage the symptoms and improve your quality of life.
What Is Late Lyme Disease
Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is caused by an infection with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacteria is disseminated through tick bites. Infected ticks usually bite small mammals, who do not develop any kind of infection from the bacteria. When humans are exposed to B. Burgdorferi from a tick bite, however, they can develop Lyme disease.
People who work outside or spend time in woodland areas, where there is greater potential for exposure to tick bites, are most at risk of infection.
Lyme disease is a condition which progresses in stages:
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Disclaimer: The above material is provided for information purposes only. The material is not nor should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor does it necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of Global Lyme Alliance, Inc. or any of its directors, officers, advisors or volunteers. Advice on the testing, treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patients medical history. Global Lyme Alliance, Inc. makes no warranties of any kind regarding this Website, including as to the accuracy, completeness, currency or reliability of any information contained herein, and all such warranties are expressly disclaimed.
Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
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Lyme disease is an underreported, under-researched, and often debilitating disease transmitted by spirochete bacteria. The spiral-shaped bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, are transmitted by blacklegged deer ticks. Lymes wide range of symptoms mimic those of many other ailments, making it difficult to diagnose .
The blacklegged ticks can also transmit other disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. These are known as coinfections . These ticks that transmit Lyme are increasing their geographical spread. As of 2016, they were found in about half the counties in 43 of 50 states in the United States .
Lyme is the fifth most reported of notifiable diseases in the United States, with an estimated 329,000 new cases found annually . Some studies estimate that there are as many as 1 million cases of Lyme in the United States every year .
Most people with Lyme who are treated right away with three weeks of antibiotics have a good prognosis.
But if youre not treated for weeks, months, or even years after infection, Lyme becomes more difficult to treat. Within days of the bite, the bacteria can move to your central nervous system, muscles and joints, eyes, and heart .
Here is a list of 13 common signs and symptoms of Lyme disease.
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The Experience Of Lyme Disease
In our book, Conquering Lyme Disease: Science Bridges the Great Divide, we review several of the key features of Lyme disease that can make the experience of this illness so challenging, including:
- The politically charged climate
- The protean nature of manifestations of the illness
- The waxing and waning course of symptoms
- The psychological ramifications of having an “invisible” chronic illness and the experience of invalidation
- The challenge of having a disease that affects the brain and sensory system
- The impact of uncertainty surrounding diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis
Stage : Early Disseminated Lyme Disease
Early disseminated Lyme disease occurs several weeks to months after the tick bite.
Youll have a general feeling of being unwell, and a rash may appear in areas other than the tick bite.
This stage of the disease is primarily characterized by evidence of systemic infection, which means infection has spread throughout the body, including to other organs.
Symptoms can include:
- disturbances in heart rhythm, which can be caused by Lyme carditis
- neurologic conditions, such as numbness, tingling, facial and cranial nerve palsies, and meningitis
The symptoms of stages 1 and 2 can overlap.
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How Is It Treated
An initial episode of Lyme arthritis should be treated with a 4-week course of oral antibiotics. Patients with persistent joint inflammation and pain after the first course of antibiotics may require a second course . In some cases, joint swelling and pain can persist or recur after two courses of antibiotics. The cause of persistent arthritis is unknown but is thought to be driven by immunologic factors. Additional antibiotics have not been shown to improve these symptoms, and patient referral to a rheumatologist should be considered.
Late Stage Lyme Disease: Symptoms And Treatment
There are three stages of Lyme disease. If you are experiencing the symptoms in the late stage, that means you have already passed through the first two stages of early localized and early disseminated Lyme disease.
During the early localized phase, you may have had a rash associated with the bite given by the infected tick. Symptoms following the bite may have included chills, fever, headaches, fatigue, stiff neck, muscle soreness, and possibly swollen lymph nodes.
If you did not receive the right treatment at the onset, you quickly moved into the next stage. During the early disseminated phase, the Lyme infection started spreading through your body.
Symptoms in the second stage include all of the signs from the early localized stage, only worse. You may also experience vision problems, pain or weakness in your limbs, heart palpitations, and facial paralysis such as bells palsy.
If left untreated, stage two will turn into late stage Lyme disease.
If you are in stage three, or the late disseminated stage, you have been struggling with symptoms for a long while and without treatment specific to Lyme disease.
The symptoms of late stage Lyme disease are genuine and can interfere with daily functioning.
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Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
The key to Lyme disease is prevention and this requires an interprofessional team approach. All healthcare workers including the nurse practitioner, pharmacist, and primary care provider should provide patient education on measures to prevent tick bites while hiking or working outdoors. In areas where ticks are common, cleaning up of the environment by removing the underbrush and spraying an insecticide may reduce the tick burden in the area. The outdoors person should be told to wear appropriate garments and be familiar with the skin features of the tick bite. The nurse should educate the patient on how to remove the tick from the skin and when to seek medical assistance. The pharmacist should educate the patient on medication compliance for those who have been confirmed to have acquired Lyme disease.
Nurses should educate parents how to inspect their children for ticks at the end of an outdoor event, in an endemic area. While there are many repellants on the market, it is best to avoid them as the risk of harm is greater than any benefit. If one is going to use a repellant, DEET is the one product that is safe, however, it is not 100% effective. finally, the pharmacist should educate the patient about the harms of taking prophylactic doxycycline a better strategy is to remove the tick as soon as it is visualized.