Can Lyme Disease Be Treated
Yes. People treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely. Antibiotics commonly used for oral treatment include doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil. People with certain neurological or cardiac forms of illness may require intravenous treatment with antibiotics such as ceftriaxone or penicillin. For additional information, please consult the CDC webpage at .
What Can I Expect Long Term If My Child Has Lyme Disease
If Lyme disease is caught and treated early, most children will make a full recovery. Some children with Lyme disease go on to experience what’s called a post-infectious syndrome with symptoms that may include feeling fatigue, joint aches and pains, headaches, difficulty sleeping, and problems concentrating. Since the infection itself is gone by this time, doctors generally don’t prescribe antibiotics. Each child is different, but it’s not uncommon for symptoms of post-infectious syndrome to linger for months, or even years, and they can be made worse by stress or other illness. But most children do make a full recovery.
Blacklegged, or deer, ticks are very small, so it helps to know what to look for when doing a tick check. Adults are about the size of sesame seeds and in the nymph or larva stage, they can be as tiny as a poppy seeds.
Symptoms Of Early Stage Lyme Disease
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.
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How To Remove A Tick
If you are bitten by a tick, Lyme is not the only disease you can catch. There are many other tick borne diseases. Many are treated by the same antibiotics used to treat Lyme, but some may need different treatments, so talk to your doctor if your symptoms are not going away after antibiotics. Dr. Manuelpillai
Removing a tick as soon as possible can reduce the risk of Lyme disease as ticks must be attached to the skin for at least a day for the disease to take hold.
If you do find a tick, remove it with fine-tipped tweezers.
- Grasp the tick as close to the skins surface as possible and then steadily pull upward with even pressure to remove the entire tick.
- Dont twist or jerk the tick. This can cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth parts with tweezers if you can.
- Do not crush the tick with your fingers.
- Clean the bite area and your hands with soap and water, rubbing alcohol, or an iodine scrub.
- Get rid of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.
How Should A Tick Be Removed
Grasp the mouthparts with tweezers as close as possible to the attachment site. Be careful not to squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick, which may contain infectious fluids. Pull firmly and steadily upward to remove the tick. After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash hands. The NYSDOH has created a video on proper tick removal and a printable card with steps on how to remove ticks . See or call a doctor if there are concerns about incomplete tick removal. Do not attempt to remove ticks by using petroleum jelly, lit cigarettes or other home remedies because these may actually increase the chance of contracting a tick-borne disease.
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How Do You Acquire This Borrelia Infection
Humans and animals are infected with the bacteria through hard-tick bites. The borrelia survive in the midgut of the ticks. The immature nymphs are most likely to transmit the infection. The ticks feed on infected animals and then on humans.
Ticks occur in high grass, brush, woodland and leafy forest. The main hosts for the ticks and borrelia are small to medium-sized animals in Europe and deer in North America.
- In North America, the tick vectors are Ixodes scapularis, I. pacificus, and 4 other tick species
- In Europe and Asia, the tick vectors are I. ricinus, I. hexagonus, and I. persulcatus
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Early symptoms usually appear within 3 to 30 days after the bite of an infected tick. In 60-80 percent of cases, a circular bull’s eye rash about two inches in diameter, called erythema migrans, appears and expands around or near the site of the tick bite. Sometimes, multiple rash sites appear. One or more of the following symptoms usually mark the early stage of Lyme disease: chills and fever, headache, fatigue, stiff neck, muscle and/or joint pain, and swollen glands. If Lyme disease is unrecognized or untreated in the early stage, more severe symptoms may occur. As the disease progresses, severe fatigue, a stiff aching neck, and tingling or numbness in the arms and legs, or facial paralysis can occur. The most severe symptoms of Lyme disease may not appear until weeks, months or years after the tick bite. These can include severe headaches, painful arthritis, swelling of the joints, and heart and central nervous system problems.
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Diagnosis Of Lyme Disease
Diagnosis is currently based on clinical findings supported by several types of laboratory tests. One type of test seeks to isolate the actual organism from the EM skin lesion, blood, joints, and cerebrospinal fluid. Other types of tests attempt to detect antibodies formed by the patients immune system against the organism. Currently, serology tests are poorly standardized and physicians must interpret them with caution. They are insensitive during the first several weeks of infection and may remain negative in people treated early with antibiotics. Test sensitivity increases when patients progress to later stages of the disease, but a small proportion of Lyme disease patients never develop a positive blood test result. Another complicating factor is that there can be a cross-reaction in the blood test, giving a false positive result for Lyme disease in persons who really have conditions such as syphilis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, human immunodeficiency virus infection, infectious mononucleosis, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Although present diagnostics are not perfect, great strides have been made in the past twenty years. More sensitive and specific tests for Lyme disease are being developed.
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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Lyme Disease Symptoms In Dogs
One of the main symptoms of Lyme disease is limping in dogs, which can be alarming when first spotted. With Lyme disease, lameness is ongoing and can last anywhere from three to four days but sometimes, even goes on for weeks on end. It can worsen in the same leg or move on to other legs. If it jumps to other legs, then its often called shifting-leg lameness.
This lameness causes extreme discomfort, because lameness often causes a dogs legs to feel swollen, warm, and painful. If you see your dog suddenly limping, dont assume that they injured their paw or got tired from running too much at the park. It might be something more serious, like Lyme disease.
How can you tell whether they injured themselves or if its Lyme disease? If your dog is consistently lifting the same leg, then hes probably just injured it. But if the leg pain is shifting around and shifts from one leg to the next, it could be a sign of shifting-leg-lameness and actually a result from Lyme disease.
Lyme disease can also cause kidney problems in dogs. Dog kidney disease comes with a host of other problems like diarrhea, lack of appetite, weight loss, increased urination and thirst, and fluid build-ups.
Some general symptoms of Lyme Disease in dogs include:
- Stiff walking with an arched back
- Sensitivity to touch
- Nervous system complications
Prevention Of Lyme Disease
- Avoid areas endemic for Lyme borreliosis.
- When walking in high grass or woodland, wear white clothes with long sleeves, long trousers tucked into socks, or long boots.
- Use repellents/pesticides.
- After return from a walk in an endemic area, change your clothes and check your whole body carefully.
- The next day, check your body for ticks again.
- Remove the tick as a prompt removal decreases the risk of Lyme disease transmission. Disinfect the site. Use tweezers to carefully and steadily pull the tick out from the skin. Disinfect the site again. Wash your hands.
- Watch the site of the tick bite for several weeks. If a rash appears bigger than 5 cm or you have ‘flu-like symptoms, consult your doctor.
There is no vaccine for Lyme disease.
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How Do I Avoid Getting Bitten By A Tick
The best way to protect you against Lyme disease and other tickborne illnesses is to avoid tick bites. This includes avoiding tick-infested areas. However, if you live in or visit wooded areas or areas with tall grass and weeds, follow these precautions against Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and tularemia:
Ongoing Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
A few people who are diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease continue to have symptoms, like tiredness, aches and loss of energy, that can last for years.
It’s not clear why this happens to some people and not others. This means there’s also no agreed treatment.
Speak to a doctor if your symptoms come back, or do not improve, after treatment with antibiotics.
The doctor may be able to offer you further support if needed, such as:
- referral for a care needs assessment
- telling your employer, school or higher education institution that you require a gradual return to activities
- communicating with children and families’ social care
Page last reviewed: 05 July 2021 Next review due: 05 July 2024
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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.
Which Areas Are More Likely To Have It
The tick that causes Lyme disease has been moving from the Northeast and upper Midwest into the Southern and Western U.S., Mexico, and Canada. Cases in California and Florida are on the rise. After a drop between 2017 and 2018, the numbers jumped a little bit in 2019.
But most Lyme cases in 2019 were in 15 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New
Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Washington, DC, is also a hotspot.
In 2019, Pennsylvania had the most Lyme infections, with 6,763. New York was next, with 2,847 cases.
In the Southern U.S., where itâs hotter, ticks stay under leaves so they don’t dry out. This means people donât get Lyme from Southern ticks very often because they don’t usually come out to bite.
Even though people only report about 30,000 cases of Lyme infection in the U.S. each year, there are actually around 476,000 a year. The same tick also can spread other diseases, including babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and Powassan virus. Those diseases are also on the rise in the U.S.
Whoâs likeliest to get Lyme disease?
Boys up to age 15 and men between the ages of 40 and 60 are the most likely to get Lyme disease. Thatâs because they tend to play outside and go camping, hunting, and hiking.
Why are there more ticks now than there used to be?
There are several reasons why Lyme is spreading. Some of these are:
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Early Disseminated Stage Of Lyme Disease
The early disseminated stage is the time when the bacteria contracted from the deer tick is moving into your blood stream. This can take a while. You may have already been tested for Lyme and your results came back negative. However, you may still have Lyme disease.
Thats confusing, yes. The explanation involves a lack of good testing systems, and the slow process of how the infection spreads in your body. Recognizing and documenting all symptoms is a key factor is receiving proper treatment.
Your doctor should know that the two Lyme tests, the ELISA and the Western Blot, should be taken together and multiple times to rule out Lyme. Thats because Lyme symptoms can continue to show up years the initial tick bite.
Life Cycle Of B Burgdorferi
The primary vector of Lyme disease in the northeastern and north central United States is the deer tick, Ixodes scapularis. The primary vector in the Pacific coastal area of the country is I.pacificus. Ticks go through four stages in their development , and B. burgdorferi is maintained in ticks as they pass from one stage to the next. When an infected tick bites a human or certain animals , the infectious agent can be transmitted, resulting in disease. Wild rodents and deer are part of the natural life cycle of B. burgdorferi. Infected larval and nymphal ticks feed on small mammals while adult ticks feed on deer. The explosive repopulation of white-tailed deer in parts of the United States has been linked to the spread of Lyme disease. The majority of human Lyme disease cases result from bites by infected nymphs. At this stage the tick is small, less easily detected, and less likely to be promptly removed, which increases the possibility that it will transmit disease. Dogs, cattle, and horses develop disease that may include the joint and heart complications seen in humans. A vaccine is available for dogs, which in addition to protecting them, has a beneficial public health impact by decreasing the proximity of this disease to people. There is no evidence that Lyme disease has been transmitted directly from animal-to-animal, animal-to-human, or human-to-human.
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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 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.
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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 – Lyme Disease .