So When Do You Need Blood Tests For Lyme Disease
In some cases, you can have Lyme disease without the rash. Or you may not see the rash before it goes away on its own.
In these cases, your doctor should ask you about your medical history and do a thorough physical exam. Your doctor should look for these signs that you might have Lyme disease:
- You were in an area with ticks and Lyme disease.
- You also have fever or redness, warmth, and swelling in one or a few joints at a time usually the knees, shoulders, or wrists.
Other symptoms can occur later on. Talk to your doctor about testing and treatment choices.
This report is for you to use when talking with your healthcare provider. It is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. Use of this report is at your own risk.
How Is Lyme Disease Treated
Antibiotics, usually doxycycline or amoxicillin, are effective treatments for Lyme disease. How long your treatment lasts depends on the stage of infection. In general, its true that the sooner youre treated, the quicker and more complete the recovery.
Pregnant people should receive treatment for Lyme disease as well. There is, however, no evidence that a fetus can get the infection from its parent. Theres also no strong evidence that miscarriages are more likely after Lyme disease.
What should I do if a tick bites me?
If a tick bites you, the best way to remove it is by taking the following steps:
- Tug gently but firmly with blunt tweezers near the “head” of the tick at the level of your skin until it releases its hold on your skin.
- Avoid crushing the tick’s body or handling the tick with bare fingers because you could expose yourself to the bacteria in the tick.
- Wash the bite area thoroughly with soap and water.
- Don’t use kerosene, petroleum jelly or hot cigarette butts to remove the tick.
- Don’t squeeze the tick’s body with your fingers or tweezers.
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.
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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Who Gets Lyme Disease
Anyone bitten by an infected deer tick can get Lyme disease. Most U.S. cases of Lyme disease happen in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. But Lyme disease is also found in other parts of the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
Other things that might increase a person’s risk include:
- spending a lot of time outdoors in tall grass, brush, shrubs, or wooded areas
- having pets that may carry ticks indoors
- activities such as yardwork, hiking, camping, fishing, or hunting in tick-infested areas
Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented Or Avoided
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid being bitten by ticks. When you are outdoors, follow these guidelines:
- Avoid areas that are wooded, brushy, or have tall grass.
- Walk in the center of trails.
- Use an insect repellent with at least 20% DEET. It can be put on clothing or sparingly on the skin. Dont apply it to the face or hands of children.
- Treat clothing, tents, or other gear with repellents containing 0.5% permethrin.
- Wear light-colored clothing. This makes it easier to see and remove ticks from your clothes.
- Wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Tuck your pant legs into your socks or boots for added protection.
After you get home, check everything and everyone for ticks.
- Bathe or shower as soon as you can to wash off any ticks that have not attached to you.
- Check your entire body for ticks. Use a mirror for places you cant see. Check your children and your pets. Common tick locations include the back of the knees, groin area, underarms, ears, scalp, and the back of the neck.
- Check any gear you used, including coats, backpacks, or tents.
Tumble dry clothes or blankets on high heat in the dryer for 10 to 15 minutes. This should kill any ticks. If clothes are dirty, wash them in hot water and dry on high heat for 60 minutes.
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Can Lyme Disease Go Away On Its Own
Although the signs and symptoms associated with Lyme disease may clear after a few weeks, without the help of antibiotics, treatment with antibiotics is crucial to avoid any potential damage in the future.
Lyme disease occurs in stages, so in order to avoid it progressing into the later stages, correct treatment is a must.
How To Remove Ticks
Tick bites arent always painful. You may not notice a tick unless you see it on your skin. Check your skin and your childrens or pets skin after being outdoors.
To remove a tick:
The risk of getting ill is low. You dont need to do anything else unless you become unwell.
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Use The Right Insect Repellent
You are strongly advised to use insect repellents registered with the Environmental Protection Agency . These contain, for example, DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus , para-menthane-diol , or 2-undecanone. Always take care to follow the product instructions. Products containing OLE or PMD are not suitable for children under 3 years old.
Then apply insect repellent properly. Do this before you leave home. Spray some on your hands, then apply it to the rest of the body taking care to make sure it’s in the skin creases, behind the knees, the elbows, in the finger webs and behind the ears. This should do the job for around 90 minutes. Then reapply.
What Causes Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is carried by the blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick. This tick is found in the northeastern and upper midwestern United States. On the Pacific coast, Lyme disease is spread by the western blacklegged tick .
When an infected tick bites you, a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi passes from the tick into your bloodstream. In order for this to happen, the tick must be attached to you for 36 to 48 hours. Most people are infected when they’re bitten by immature ticks, which can be difficult to see.
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Stage : Changing Skin
In stage 3, few signs of Lyme disease appear on the skin. Most problems occur in the heart and nervous system, and these can be serious.
Where you see signs on your skin: If you were in Europe when bit by a tick, you may see changes to your skin in this late stage. These changes usually appear on a hand or foot. Some people develop this change on both of their hands or feet. It can also occur on a knee, elbow, or elsewhere.
What the skin looks like: The skin begins to swell, and you may notice some redness. These signs are caused by having a bacterial infection for a long time. The affected skin may also feel sore.
In time, the skin starts to harden and shrink, causing deep lines to form. If you have hair in the area, it tends to fall out. The sweat glands can die, and the skin often becomes so thin that it tears easily. The medical name for this condition is acrodermatitischronical atrophicans.
In stage 3, you may also see tumors on your skin. It is believed that the long-term infection and swelling in the lymph nodes can lead to a cancer known as cutaneous B-cell lymphoma.
Skin starts to harden and shrink, causing deep lines to form
The medical name for this condition is acrodermatitis chronical atrophicans. Swelling, hardened skin, and deep lines on the foot of someone who has had Lyme disease for years.
When you see signs of changing skin and symptoms: These tend to occur months or years after you are bitten by a tick.
Protect Yourself When You Go Outside
You must cover your skin when you walk outside, in the garden or the countryside. This is especially true if you are outside for long periods such as camping, hiking, gardening or hunting. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked in at the ankles.
Ticks mostly attach on the legs, or to your socks and shoes. If you wear lighter colored clothes, you can spot them more easily. Ticks tend to migrate towards warm areas such as behind the knees, the groin or the scalp.
The CDC recommends you use 0.5% permethrin-treated walking gear. Alternatively, you can purchase 0.5% permethrin and treat your clothing and footwear yourself.
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Who Gets Lyme Disease And At What Time Of Year
Lyme disease is transmitted via the bite of infected ticks, which attach to any part of the body, but often to moist or hairy areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp.
While everyone is susceptible to tick bites, campers, hikers, and people who work in gardens and other leafy outdoor venues are at the greatest risk of tick bites. As many a suburban gardener can attest, with the expansion of the suburbs and a push to conserve wooded areas, deer and mice populations are thriving, too, providing ample blood meals for ticks. For lyme disease to be transmitted, a tick needs to feed on the host for 24-48 hours.
In the majority of cases, tick bites are reported in the summer months when ticks are most active and people spend more time outdoors. But this can extend into the warmer months of early autumn, too, or even late winter if temperatures are unusually high. Similarly, a mild winter can allow ticks, much like other insects, to thrive and emerge earlier than usual.
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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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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Summer is the season to head outdoors, but the looming threat of tick bites has many uneasy about a hike in the woods, with good reason. We are right smack in the middle of peak season for ticks, which means the chance of contracting Lyme disease from a single tick bite is relatively high, especially in the Northeast and Midwest, where 70 percent of the ballooning deer tick population is infected with the health-compromising disease.
Lyme disease is scary in part because the signs can be easy to miss, and undetected cases can progress from treatable to chronic without a patient ever seeing a tick. People on the lookout for the tell-tale bullseye to necessitate a trip to their health care provider may miss the critical treatment window. The reality is that 30 percent of people with Lyme disease never get that bullseye, and because the rash can move locations and is usually not itchy or painful, some people who have a skin reaction never notice it.
So how can you enjoy the outdoors with your family this summer and still avoid Lyme disease? Tick vigilance is a great first step long sleeves and pants, insect repellent containing DEET and Permethrin for clothes and shoes will go a long way in warding off these pesky parasites. Still, there is always a risk of picking up a tiny hitchhiker when you head outside, so its important to understand the symptoms of an infected bite.
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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.
Treatment For Lyme Disease Symptoms
Doctors say the sooner you notice symptoms, the better your outcome. People treated in the early stages of Lyme generally make a full, rapid recovery, the CDC notes.
Antibiotics are recommended for most people with Lyme disease, but what that regimen looks like varies widely from person to person. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says a short course of an oral antibiotic, such as doxycycline or amoxicillin, can clear up Lyme infection in most cases. However, the particular drug, dosage, and duration your doctor recommends may depend on factors such as:
- Whether you are pregnant
- Allergies to medications
Even after treatment, some people report lingering symptoms. They may have persistent pain, muscle and joint aches, unexplained numbness, and fatigue, for example. Brain fog and sleep disruption are also common, says Dr. Flanagan. These sputtering symptoms can stretch over a few months, he says, but they will get better graduallyit can take time: two steps forward, one step back.
Symptoms that persist for more than six months may lead to what the CDC calls post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome . The CDC says people with PTLDS can get better in time, but it can take months. Some doctors recommend prolonged antibiotic treatment. However, CDC cautions that long-term courses of antibiotics can actually be dangerous.
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How You Get Lyme Disease
Lyme disease can be transmitted by the bite of a tick infected with Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria.
Ticks survive in many habitats but prefer moist areas with leaf litter or longer grass, like in woodland, grassland, moorland, heathland and some urban parks and gardens.
Ticks dont jump or fly but climb on to your clothes or skin if you brush past vegetation.
They then bite into the skin and start to feed on your blood. Being bitten doesnt mean youll definitely be infected as not all ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
If bitten by an infected tick, you are more likely to become infected the longer the tick remains attached and feeding.
Ticks are very small and their bites are not painful, so you may not realise you have one attached to your skin. It is important to check yourself for ticks after outdoor activities and remove any ticks promptly and safely.