Lyme Disease And The Cdc
In order for the Centers for Disease Control to recognize a Lyme case for surveillance purposes, there must be objective findings, such as positive blood tests, Bells palsy or joint swelling . The chart below reflects the CDC-reviewed surveillance case manifestations from 2001 to 2010.
This situation contributes to what many experts view as severe undercounting of Lyme disease by the CDC.
Some Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms
As mentioned, chronic Lyme disease consists of a broad cluster of physical, cognitive, and psychiatric symptoms. Some of these symptoms are much more common, while others almost never occur, but can be deadly. But even the less severe symptoms, such as chronic fatigue and pain, can lead to drastic changes in quality of life for chronic Lyme patients.
Chronic Lyme survivors have reported experiencing the following symptoms for months to years after infection:
- Intermittent fevers, chills, and sweats
- Chronic inflammation
- Numbness and tingling in the limbs
- Dizziness and shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations and irregular heartbeat
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Multiple-chemical sensitivities
Chronic Lyme disease can be linked to deadly symptoms, such as Lyme carditis .
According to Lymedisease.org, studies consistently show that chronic Lyme disease patients have poorer quality of life than those with other chronic diseases. One of their own studies showed that 75% of surveyed patients reported at least one symptom as severe or very severe.
Reduce Ticks In Your Backyard
While many people used to believe you had to travel into a wooded area to come across ticks, many ticks are living right in their own backyard.
You can help reduce the possibility of ticks by ensuring that your lawn and property is not a suitable environment for ticks. Make sure your lawn is frequently mowed, trees and bushes trimmed to allow for sunlight and remove any weeds or brush from your yard. Remove any excess furniture and keep swing-sets and garbage away from wooded areas.
Additionally, you can create a barrier around your property of wooden chips or gravel to restrict tick movement and migration into the rest of your lawn.
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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.
Who’s At Risk And Where Are Ticks Found
The risk of getting Lyme disease is higher:
- for people who spend time in woodland or moorland areas
- from March to October because more people take part in outdoor activities
Ticks are found throughout the UK and in other parts of Europe and North America. There are a high number of ticks in the Scottish Highlands.
It’s thought only a small proportion of ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Being bitten doesn’t mean you’ll definitely be infected. However, it’s important to be aware of the risk and speak to a GP if you start to feel unwell.
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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.
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.
They’re common in woodland and moorland areas, but can also be found in gardens or parks.
Ticks don’t jump or fly. They climb on to your clothes or skin if you brush against something they’re on. They then bite into the skin and start to feed on your blood.
Generally, you’re 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.
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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.
What Are The First Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
In the first early localized stage of Lyme disease the skin at the site of the tick bite becomes infected with Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria which can cause an expanding round or oval red skin lesion called erythema migrans. This may or may not be associated with flu-like symptoms within days to a month after the tick bite such as achiness, chills, fever, sweats, fatigue, malaise, headache, stiff neck, muscle soreness, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, and sore throat. The combination of the skin lesion and flu-like symptoms are the primary manifestations of acute stage Lyme disease. Acute Lyme disease is not associated with typical cold-like symptoms of runny nose, prominent cough, or prominent diarrhea.
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Chronic Lyme Disease Vs Ptlds
The terms chronic Lyme disease and Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome are sometimes used interchangeably. However, PTLDS is slightly more restrictive, referring to patients who have received treatment for Lyme disease but go on to experience Lyme disease symptoms. It does not include those who received a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis and have developed chronic symptoms of Lyme disease before receiving any kind of treatment.
The CDC defines PTLDS as generalized and/or recurring pain, fatigue, and cognitive difficulties that last for more than 6 months after treatment. These mirror symptoms associated with chronic Lyme disease, with or without treatment.
What Are Possible Complications Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease affects people differently. Many people with Lyme disease are diagnosed early and cured by their first treatment. Relapse and incomplete treatment are unusual. But you can be reinfected after treatment if you are bitten by another tick. This is by far the most common reason for repeated infection.
Even untreated, most people with the infection will cure it on their own and never develop complications. Untreated, complications that can occur later may include:
Joint infection, usually involving a single large joint such as the knee
Nervous system disease, including meningitis and encephalitis
Rarely, these complications can result in chronic, debilitating conditions.
Some people may develop post-Lyme disease syndrome . It may cause lasting musculoskeletal and peripheral nerve pain, fatigue, and memory problems. But there is no active infection in those with PLDS. Taking more rounds of antibiotics doesn’t help.
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Chronic Lyme Disease Vs Acute And Late Stage Lyme
One reason chronic Lyme disease is harder to detect and treat than Lyme at earlier stages is that chronic Lyme disease symptoms are more wide-ranging and varied. Chronic Lyme disease can cause symptoms of early Lyme disease such as fatigue and muscle aches to recur, but it can also cause new symptoms that affect different parts of the body.
What To Do If You Have A Blacklegged Tick Bite
Remove the tick by pulling it directly out with fine-tipped tweezers. Lift upward with slow and even pressure. Dont twist when removing it. Dont crush it or put soap or other substances on it. Dont apply heat to it.
Place the tick in a resealable container. See if you can identify what kind of a tick it is.
Immediately after removing the tick, wash your skin well with soap and water or with rubbing alcohol.
Not all ticks carry Lyme. The Lyme bacteria is transmitted only by blacklegged ticks in their nymph or adult stage.
Save the tick to show your doctor. The doctor will want to determine if its a blacklegged tick and if theres evidence of feeding. Ticks enlarge as they feed. Your risk of getting Lyme from an infected tick increases with the length of time that the tick fed on your blood.
Pull the tick out with tweezers and save it in a resealable container for identification.
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When Should I Go See My Doctor
Anyone who has been bitten by a black-legged deer tick is at risk for Lyme disease. The highest risk groups include those living in or visiting endemic areas, especially people who spend significant time outdoors such as gardeners, hikers, or outdoor workers.
Patients should seek advice from their doctor if they have a suspicious round expanding red skin lesion, and/or show signs of summer-flu, particularly during Lyme disease season, which is highest-risk late spring through July/August. If those circumstances apply or symptoms persist it is very important to go to a physician.
For the west coast and other more temperate regions Lyme disease can be a year-round concern.
In the later disseminated stages, Lyme disease can be a much more insidious and complex illness. An individual should seek medical care if experiencing symptoms such as prolonged fevers, unexplained fatigue, painful joints, new or unusual headache, or heart or neurologic symptoms. If unexplained viral-like symptoms last for more than 1-2 weeks, please seek the advice of a physician.
Later Signs Of Lyme Disease
What if Lyme disease isnt detected early on? The longer that disease-causing bacteria linger in the body, the more they disseminate, and as these microbes spread to tissues throughout the body, they can trigger a litany of symptoms. CDC says these may include:
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes. These lesions may pop up on other areas of the body
- A type of facial paralysis known as Bells palsy
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling. Knees and other large joints are vulnerable
- Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- Nerve pain
- Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
You might have persistent or episodic symptoms, says Dr. Green. Pain that seems to move through the body? Thats common too. The hallmark of late Lyme is migratory joint pain: today my right knee hurts and tomorrow Im limping on my left ankle, and, oh, my third finger of my right hand swelled up, and, oh, my neck has swelled up, she says.
In rare cases, Lyme disease bacteria can enter the tissues of the heart. This complication, called Lyme carditis, can lead to lightheadedness, fainting, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, or chest pain.
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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 To Watch For According To Doctors
Knowing the symptoms to look for can help diagnose Lyme disease early on, when it’s easily treatable.
Fever or fatigue, with or without a rash, can be a symptom of many thingsand Lyme disease is just one possibility. To diagnose Lyme, doctors say they have to consider symptoms and circumstances. If youve been hanging out in wooded or grassy areas, especially in certain regions of the country during the spring, summer, or even autumn months, it might make sense to entertain the possibility that you were bitten by a tick. And whats the most commonly reported tick-borne illness in America? Its Lyme disease, by far.
But Timothy P. Flanagan, MD, associate professor of medicine in the infectious diseases division at Brown Universitys Alpert Medical School, says it would be a mistake to latch on to a Lyme diagnosis without ruling out other possible causes, including other infections transmitted by ticks. You could have a different tick-borne infection entirely, such as anaplasmosis or babesiosis, or you could have Lyme with one or more co-infections. Thats because the same ticks that transmit Borrelia can carry other disease-causing microbes, too.
Its super important that we think of all the tick-borne diseasesnot just Lyme, Dr. Flanagan tells Health. Babesia, a parasite that causes babesiosis, is treated differently than Borrelia, for example.
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What Are The Stages Of Lyme Infection
There are three stages:
- Early localized Lyme: Flu-like symptoms like fever, chills, headache, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, and a rash that looks like a bull’s-eye or is round and red and at least 2 inches long
- Early disseminated Lyme: Flu-like symptoms like pain, weakness, or numbness in your arms and legs, changes in your vision, heart palpitations and chest pain, a rash , and a type of facial paralysis known as Bellâs palsy
- Late disseminated Lyme: This can happen weeks, months, or years after the tick bite. Symptoms might include arthritis, severe fatigue and headaches, dizziness, trouble sleeping, and confusion.
About 10% of people treated for Lyme infection donât shake the disease. They may go on to have three core symptoms: joint or muscle pain, fatigue, and short-term memory loss or confusion. This is called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome. It can be hard to diagnose because it has the same symptoms as other diseases. Plus, there isn’t a blood test to confirm it.
Experts arenât sure why Lyme symptoms donât always go away. One theory is that your body keeps fighting the infection even after the bacteria are gone, like an autoimmune disorder.
Women With Chronic Lyme Disease May Suffer From A Severe Immune Response Triggered By The Disease
Women with chronic manifestations of Lyme disease are often told they suffer from a variety of other illnesses including depression, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome or unexplained medical symptoms.
According to a study by Wormser and colleagues, from New York Medical College, Patients with chronic Lyme disease were significantly more likely to be female than were patients diagnosed with either Lyme disease or with post-Lyme disease syndrome.
This finding, says Wormser, suggests that illnesses with a female preponderance, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or depression, may be misdiagnosed as chronic Lyme disease.
However, it may be that women with chronic symptoms of Lyme Disease suffer instead from a severe immune response brought on by the illness.
A study by Aucott and colleagues from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine states, Individuals with ideally treated early Lyme disease have a greater than 12-fold higher risk of developing PTLDS by six or twelve months post-treatment if their CCL19 level is higher than 111.67 pg/ml at one month post-treatment.
High CCL19 chemokine elevations have been reported in immune illnesses. Based on this, we speculate that elevated CCL19 levels may reflect an ongoing, immune-driven reaction at sites distal to secondary lymphoid tissue, says Aucott.
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