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.
Lyme Disease Just Got Nastier
A new culprit behind Lyme disease has been discovered, and it can cause even nastier symptoms than its predecessor.
Until now, scientists thought that the tick-borne illness was caused by only one species of bacteria, called Borrelia burgdorferi. But scientists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Mayo Clinic have discovered a second, related species of bacteria, Borrelia mayonii, that can infect people bitten by the black-legged deer tick.
The report, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, says the new bacteria causes similar symptoms in the early stage of infection, such as fever, headache, rash, and neck pain. Arthritis can set in weeks later.
But unlike B. burgdorferi, B. mayonii can inflict nausea and vomiting, as well. It also may cause a diffuse rash, different from the telltale bulls-eye rash doctors peg to the original Lyme infection.
One patients father said his son looked like a Dalmatian because of the spots all over him, said study author Dr. Bobbi Pritt, a medical director in the division of clinical microbiology at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota.
Pritt told CBS News that two of the patients in their study experienced neurological symptoms, as well. One patient had profound somnolence . They were so zonked out they couldnt be woken up. The other patient had vision disturbances, double vision, she said.
Bobbi Pritt Md Identifies Lyme Disease Signs And Symptoms
With tick season underway in parts of the United States, it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease to determine when to seek medical treatment. Bobbi Pritt, M.D., Director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory in Mayo Clinics Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, identifies Lyme disease signs and symptoms at AccuWeather.com.
Early signs include:
Rash: The classic targetoid, or “bull’s-eye,” rash is an early, visible symptom of Lyme disease and is seen in 70% to 80% of infected people, according to Dr. Pritt. This rash, technically called erythema migrans, takes about three days or more to appear at the site of a tick bite and is typically not painful or itchy.
Flu-like symptoms: Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes often coincide with the rash. If you have these symptoms, even without a telltale rash, Dr. Pritt recommends to visit a health care professional as soon as possible and possibly get treated with antibiotics.
Later signs include:
Joint pain: Arthritis of a single joint may occur weeks, months, or years after the initial infection. Dr. Pritt said usually a big joint like the knee will be affected, and the pain is often only on one side of your body.
Nervous system problems: Symptoms include temporary facial paralysis , short-term memory problems, and shooting pain and numbness in hands and feet.
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The Causes And Risk Factors Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is more common from mid-spring to mid-fall because its when people in some of the most affected regions often enjoy outdoor activities. In the U.S., the regions with the highest number of incidents include the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, as well as Midwest states like Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Ticks carrying Lyme disease thrive in wooded or grassy areas, so hikers and campers are among those at most risk, along with those whose jobs involve working outdoors. These include geographers, landscape architects, environmental engineers, wildlife biologists, farmers, and ranchers.
In colder weather, people expose less skin. However, when the weather allows, people are more likely to wear clothing that exposes more skin. While walking in tall grass, ticks can attach themselves to a persons skin or to a section of clothing first, before traveling to an area where the skin is exposed.
Early Signs Of Lyme Disease
The signs and symptoms of Lyme disease vary and usually appear in stages.
Early signs and symptoms
A small, red bump often appears at the site of a tick bite or tickremoval and resolves over a few days. This is normal after a tick bite and doesnot indicate Lyme disease. However, these signs and symptoms may occur within amonth after youve been infected:
- Rash. From3 to 30 days after an infected tick bite, an expanding red area might appearthat sometimes clears in the center, forming a bulls-eye pattern. The rash expands slowly over days and can spread to 12 inches across. It is typically not itchy or painful. Erythema migrans isone of the hallmarks of Lyme disease. Some people develop this rash at morethan one place on their bodies.
- Flu-likesymptoms. Fever, chills, fatigue, body aches and a headache may accompany therash.
Later signs and symptoms
If untreated, new signs and symptoms of Lyme infection might appear inthe following weeks to months. These include:
- Erythemamigrans appearing in other areas of your body.
- Jointpain. Bouts of severe joint pain and swelling are especially likely to affectyour knees, but the pain can shift from one joint to another.
- Neurologicalproblems. Weeks, months or even years after infection, you might developinflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain , temporaryparalysis of one side of your face , numbness or weakness in yourlimbs, and impaired muscle movement.
- Nausea andvomiting
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What Happens If Lyme Disease Is Left Untreated
Caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread to humans through tick bites. It is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. In fact, its possible that there are around 476,000 cases per year in the U.S alone according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
A blood test is required to correctly diagnose a suspected Lyme disease case. Without trustworthy testing, Lyme disease cases can go undetected and its possible for people to live with the disease and not realize it – this can cause a number of complications.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the most common tick-borne disease in Arkansas. RMSF is caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii. This bacterium is carried mostly by the American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis, but also by the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus. Not all ticks are infected. It takes an infected tick four to six hours to spread disease after attaching to the host. Adult ticks look for large hosts such as dogs, but they also feed on humans. Ticks are often found in overgrown lots and along weedy roadsides, paths and hiking trails. Most RMSF cases occur between June and August when tick populations and outdoor activities are highest. Half of all people with RMSF do not remember being bitten by a tick.
- RMSF Symptoms and Treatment
- Symptoms of RMSF generally appear suddenly, about one week after an infected tick bite. However, there may be symptoms any time between 2 and 14 days after a bite.
- Symptoms can include:
- Non-itchy, pink rash usually starting on the wrists, forearms and ankles
It is important to get medical care as soon as possible if you think you have RMSF. Blood tests are required to diagnose RMSF, but treatment should begin as soon as symptoms and/or recent tick exposure suggest RMSF.
A Mayo Clinic Guide To Tick Species And The Diseases They Carry
Although there are hundreds of species of ticks found throughout the world, fewer than 60 are known to bite and spread disease to humans. Here are some of the more common human-biting ticks in the United States and the parts of the country where you’ll most likely find them.
American dog tick
The American dog tick, also known as a wood tick, is mainly located east of the U.S. Rocky Mountains and in some areas of the Pacific Coast. It’s responsible for spreading Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia.
Rocky Mountain wood tick
The Rocky Mountain wood tick is mainly located in the U.S. Rocky Mountain states and southwestern Canada. It’s responsible for spreading Colorado tick fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia.
Lone Star tick
The Lone Star tick is mainly located in the southeastern and eastern U.S. It’s responsible for spreading ehrlichiosis, Heartland virus disease, southern tick-associated rash illness , Bourbon virus disease and tularemia. Bites from the Lone Star tick can sometimes lead to alpha-gal syndrome.
Asian longhorned tick
The Asian longhorned tick is usually located in countries including eastern China, Japan, the Russian Far East and Korea. Since 2017, the tick has been found in several eastern states in the United States. The tick can potentially spread germs that cause serious human diseases, such as anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and rickettsiosis, but the risk to humans in the United States from this tick is still unknown.
Whats The Best Way To Prevent A Tick Bite
Ticks cant 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 youve been bitten?
Since ticks are so small, youve 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 bulls-eye, you might have a tick bite. Talk to your doctor about treatment.
If you have an allergic reaction to ticks, youll notice a bite right away.
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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.
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.
Its not clear why this happens to some people and not others. This means theres 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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Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
People with Lyme disease may react to it differently, and the symptoms can vary in severity.
Although Lyme disease is commonly divided into three stages early localized, early disseminated, and late disseminated symptoms can overlap. Some people will also present in a later stage of disease without having symptoms of earlier disease.
These are some of the more common symptoms of Lyme disease:
- a flat, circular rash that looks like a red oval or bulls-eye anywhere on your body
- other flu-like symptoms
These symptoms may occur soon after the infection, or months or years later.
Your child may have Lyme disease and not have the bulls-eye rash. According to an early study, results showed roughly 89 percent of children had a rash.
Lyme disease is best treated in the early stages. Treatment for early localized disease is a simple 10- to 14-day course of oral antibiotics to eliminate the infection.
Medications used to treat Lyme disease include:
- doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime, which are first-line treatments in adults and children
- cefuroxime and amoxicillin, which are used to treat women who are nursing or breastfeeding
After improvement and to finish the course of treatment, healthcare providers will typically switch to an oral regimen. The complete course of treatment usually takes 1428 days.
A Small Bite Could Mean More
Bites from these tiny insects can sometimes transmit Lyme disease or other infections. If you or your children spend time outside, its important to regularly check for ticks on skin, clothing, and any belongings that youve carried with you. The CDCs website has great tips on preventing tick bites.
Its also important to familiarize yourself with Lyme disease so you can recognize the symptoms when you see them. This is particularly important because treating Lyme at the first onset of symptoms will help to lessen the duration of the disease and possibly reduce future complications.*
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When Should You See A Doctor If You Think You Have Lyme
The rash is a pretty good indication that you may have been bitten. Take a photo of the rash and see your doctor. At this stage, treatment with antibiotics will probably work.
If you dont have the rash but have symptoms like fatigue, fever, and headache but no respiratory symptoms like a cough, you may want to talk to your doctor.
Lyme Disease Informational Resources
The following resources can help individuals learn about the fundamentals of the condition, including what causes Lyme disease:
- MedlinePlus, Lyme Disease: Risk factors, symptoms, and treatment of Lyme disease.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, How Many People Get Lyme Disease?: Data on the growing number of Lyme disease cases and answers to common questions.
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What Do You Do If Theres 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 Is Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, which you can get if an infected deer tick bites you. Ordinary “wood ticks” and “dog ticks” dont carry the infection.
The first recognition of Lyme disease, also called borreliosis, began in 1975 when many children received a diagnosis of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in Lyme, Connecticut, and two neighboring towns. Researchers found that bites from infected deer ticks were responsible for the outbreak of arthritis.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Signs and symptoms of early Lyme disease typically include:
- A reddish rash or skin lesion known as erythema migraines . The rash starts as a small red spot at the site of the tick bite anywhere from one week after to four weeks after the bite. The spot expands over a period of days or weeks, forming a circular, triangular or oval-shaped rash. The rash may look like a bulls eye because it appears as a red ring that surrounds a clear center area. The rash can range in size from that of a dime to the entire width of a person’s back. As infection spreads, several EM rashes can appear at different sites on your body.
Signs and symptoms of the second stage of Lyme disease may include:
- Multiple areas of rash.
- Paralysis of facial muscles .
- Heart block or an interruption of the electrical system of the heart.
- Areas of numbness or abnormal feelings .
Signs and symptoms of untreated late Lyme disease, which may happen from months to a year after infection, may include:
- Recurring episodes of swollen joints . This typically affects large joints like the knee.
- Difficulty concentrating, known as brain fog. This is a form of encephalopathy or damage to the brain.
- Damage to nerves all over your body, including your skin, muscles and organs .