Stage : Early Localized Disease
Symptoms of Lyme disease usually start 3 to 30 days after the tick bite. One of the earliest signs of the disease is a bulls-eye rash.
The rash occurs at the site of the tick bite, usually, but not always, as a central red spot surrounded by a clear spot with an area of redness at the edge. It may be warm to the touch, but its not painful and doesnt itch. This rash will gradually fade in most people.
The formal name for this rash is erythema migrans.
Some people with lighter skin have a rash thats solid red. Some people with darker skin may have a rash that resembles a bruise.
The rash can occur with or without systemic viral or flu-like symptoms.
Other symptoms commonly seen in this stage of Lyme disease include:
Youll have a general feeling of being unwell. 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.
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 don’t 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.
Later Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
More serious symptoms may develop if Lyme disease is left untreated or is not treated early. These can include:
- pain and swelling in the joints
- nerve problems such as numbness or pain in your limbs
- memory problems
- difficulty concentrating
Some of these problems will get better slowly with treatment. But they can persist if treatment is started late.
A few people with Lyme disease go on to develop long-term symptoms similar to those of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. This is known as post-infectious Lyme disease. It’s not clear exactly why this happens. It’s likely to be related to overactivity of your immune system rather than continued infection.
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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
Are Some Locations More At Risk Than Others
Yes and no. There are areas in which the bacteria is endemic meaning the disease is established and present more or less continually in that community.
In Canada, blacklegged tick populations have been confirmed or are growing in the following areas:
- Southern British Columbia.
- Southern New Brunswick and Grand Manan Island.
- South shore and northern mainland Nova Scotia.
However, it is important to note that ticks can be spread by birds, in particular songbirds that feed off the forest floor. Because these birds are migratory, there is the potential for new populations of the bacteria to spread across the country. This fact means that you do not have to be in an endemic or high-risk area to be at risk of contacting ticks and the disease.
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My Experience With Antibiotic Treatment For Lyme
When I was first diagnosed with Lyme disease, my first response was standard: Try antibiotics. But every time I started a new round, I was absolutely miserable by the second week.
Nausea, abdominal discomfort, and feeling generally terrible all over increased until I was forced to stop the drug. Probiotics didnt help, and I had the same response to different types of antibiotics. While some people tolerate antibiotic therapy better than others, it became obvious that I would have to find a different solution.
I later discovered that my experience was not unique many people seem to have the same response to oral antibiotics. I also met numerous people who had undergone 6-9 months of intravenous antibiotic therapy, only to be right back where they started within a couple of months of finishing.
Though there may be some logic in using antibiotics for 2-4 weeks during acute infection, many people develop symptoms despite initial use of antibiotics. And as I came to know the microbe better, I began to understand why antibiotics are not necessarily a good treatment for chronic Lyme disease. Though some people do overcome Lyme disease with antibiotics, those results arent consistent enough to be considered reliable. To date, no clinical studies have shown benefit from long-term antibiotic therapy for chronic Lyme disease.
Lyme Disease In Humans : Causes Of Infection Spreading And Risk Factors
Lyme disease in humans is caused by the bite of a certain type of ticks. As these ticks bite, they spread Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacterium. Usually the pets like dogs and cats are infected with Lyme disease, as these ticks can easily get into their fur and bite them. However, Lyme disease is not contagious and hence, the pets cannot pass the disease to their owners or humans. But, if you stay in the woods for long, these ticks can bite you and cause Lyme disease in humans.3
The various animals that usually carry these ticks are deer, squirrels, white-footed field mice, skunks, chipmunks, raccoons, moles, weasels, foxes, opossums, shrews and horses. Lyme disease in humans occurs mostly in the USA, as this insect or tick is largely found in areas such as Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Wisconsin.4 The risk factors associated with Lyme disease in humans are:
- Being engaged into outdoor activities such as hunting, gardening and hiking increases the risk of Lyme disease in humans.
- Walking through the woods and grasses increases the risk of Lyme disease in humans.
- Having a pet that carries a Lyme disease spreading blacklegged ticks or deer ticks increases the risk of Lyme disease in humans.
- People living in the areas, where there is an abundance of these ticks are at increased risk for Lyme disease.5
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The Bacteria That Causes Lyme In Humans Doesnt Hurt Ticks In Fact It Might Help Them Survive
University of Rhode Island entomologist Jannelle Couret is tipping the way we understand the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
Instead of looking at it from the human perspective, she and an interdisciplinary team of researchers are taking the view of the tick.
While the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi is the pathogen that causes Lyme disease in humans, its presence is quite different in blacklegged ticks that pick up the bacteria from feeding on white-footed mice.
For the ticks, the bacteria doesnt cause disease. It might even be beneficial.
For the next four years, Courets team will research the ecological factors driving the evolution of Borrelia burgdorferi in blacklegged ticks thanks to a $2.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.
The grant is part of the prestigious Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease program, run by the NIH, National Science Foundation, and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
I am really interested in the factors that are driving the tick populations, said Couret, an assistant professor of biological studies and the principal investigator on the grant.
Their populations vary year to year. Our preliminary data suggests that the survival of the ticks during some of their early life stages is improved based on whether they host these bacteria.
How Is Lyme Disease Treated
With early-stage Lyme disease, youâll take antibiotics for about 10 days to 3 weeks. The most common ones are amoxicillin, cefuroxime, and doxycycline. The antibiotics will almost always cure your infection. If they donât, you might get other antibiotics either by mouth or as a shot.
If you donât treat your Lyme infection, you might need oral antibiotics for symptoms like weakened face muscles and irregular heartbeat. You may need antibiotics if you have meningitis, inflammation in your brain and spinal cord, or more severe heart problems.
If your Lyme is late stage, the doctor might give you antibiotics either by mouth or as a shot. If it causes arthritis, youâll get arthritis treatment.
Thereâs no therapy for post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.
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How To Remove Ticks
Tick bites aren’t always painful. You may not notice a tick unless you see it on your skin. Check your skin and your children’s or pets’ skin after being outdoors.
To remove a tick:
The risk of getting ill is low. You don’t need to do anything else unless you become unwell.
Lyme Disease Signs & Symptoms
Lyme disease is medically described as occurring in three phases, each with distinctive symptoms. The first phase is early localized disease, which occurs three to 30 days after the tick bite that transmitted the infection. This stage is characterized by skin inflammation. The rash that occurs is referred to as erythema migrans. It develops in about 70% of people who get Lyme disease. It starts at the site of the tick bite and expands over the next several days. It can eventually cover an area up to about 12 inches across. Some of the area may clear, giving the rash at times a bull’s-eye appearance.
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Prevention For Lyme Disease In Humans
Preventing Lyme disease in humans is always easier than treating it. The factor that has to be kept in mind is that the blacklegged ticks, which cause Lyme disease, are prevented. These ticks can stick on you and if it does, you need to get rid of them instantly. The most useful ways of preventing yourself from Lyme disease are:
- Wear full sleeved shirts with full pants and tuck pants in socks.
- Wear light coloured clothes so that you can spot ticks as they will be more visible.
- Carefully handle your pets because ticks can stick on animals and come into your home.
- Spray Permethrin on clothes and exposed skin to kill ticks if they stick on your clothes.
- Check your hair and that of your children, along with the scalp to make sure that the ticks do not stick to the scalp.
- If the blacklegged ticks stick on clothes, remove it by gripping to its head or mouth with a tweezers. Do not hold ticks with naked finger.
- As soon as possible, clean the area with soap and water.11
Stage : Late Disseminated Lyme Disease
Late disseminated Lyme disease occurs when the infection hasnt been treated in stages 1 and 2. Stage 3 can occur months or years after the tick bite.
This stage is characterized by:
- arthritis of one or more large joints
- brain disorders, such as encephalopathy, which can cause short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating, mental fogginess, problems with following conversations, and sleep disturbance
- numbness in the arms, legs, hands, or feet
- park or wildlife management
The majority of tick bites happen in the summer when ticks are the most active and people spend more time outside. However, its also possible to get Lyme disease from tick bites in early fall, and even in late winter if the weather is unseasonably warm.
Lyme disease prevention mostly involves decreasing your risk of experiencing a tick bite.
Take the following steps to prevent tick bites:
Contact a doctor if and whenever a tick bites you or your loved ones.
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How Is Lyme Disease Transmitted
Ticks usually live in woods or tall grasslands in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia. Ticks can become infected with Borrelia burgdorferi by feeding on infected wild animals, and then can spread the bacteria when they feed on blood from the host. Ticks cannot fly – they hang onto small bushes or tall grasses and are usually found close to the ground. They wait for an animal or person to pass near them and when the animal or person makes contact, the ticks attach themselves to the skin to feed.
In North America, Lyme disease is transmitted mainly by two species of ticks:
- Blacklegged tick , Ixodes scapularis.
- Western blacklegged tick, Ixodes pacificus.
The Public Health Agency of Canada states that there no evidence that Lyme disease can spread from person-to-person. Pets, especially dogs, can get Lyme disease, but there is no evidence that pets can spread the infection directly to humans. They may, however, carry infected ticks into the home or yard which may increase the chance of transmission.
Early Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Humans
Bulls-eye rash or Erythema migrans. This occurs in almost 70 to 80% of all people, bitten by the blacklegged ticks. This target-shaped rash in Lyme disease in humans is reddish and slightly raised. It feels warm to touch it and it spreads up to 12 inches.
Headache, muscle aches, fever and fatigue are some other symptoms of Lyme disease in humans.
- Inflammation of brain, eyes, liver and spinal cord.
- Short term memory loss.6
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For Depression And Anxiety
Both psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy have proven benefits for improving mood. Psychotherapy has many different types such as supportive, dynamic, cognitive behavioral, dialectical behavior therapy, transference focused psychotherapy each of which offers benefit. Pharmacotherapy also has many different types. For depression the first-line options usually are SSRIs, SNRIs, Tricyclics or other agents with more unique modes of action.
A few noteworthy tips on anti-depressant agents:
- Most anti-depressant agents also help in reducing anxiety. However the opposite isnt necessarily true. Specific anti-anxiety agents such as clonazepam or diazepam may not necessarily help fight depression.
- Most anti-depressants take three to eight weeks before an effect is seen. Therefore, it is unwise to stop an anti-depressant after only three or four weeks, as staying on it another two to three weeks may lead to a good response.
- Dosage makes a difference. Some anti-depressants work fine at low doses some medications however are effective only at higher doses. Some medications are more effective as the dose is i increased. Other antidepressants may have a therapeutic range one has to achieve at least a certain dosage .
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Is Lyme Disease Curable What Is The Prognosis Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is usually curable with antibiotics. This is so true that some authors of Lyme disease research have stated that the most common cause of lack of response of Lyme disease to antibiotic therapy is a lack of Lyme disease, to begin with! The type of antibiotic depends on the stage of the disease and what areas of the body are affected. Early illness is usually effectively treated with medications taken by mouth, for example, doxycycline , amoxicillin , or cefuroxime axetil . This antibiotic therapy generally results in a rapid cure of Lyme disease. Of note, doxycycline should not be used in pregnancy or children under 8 years of age.
Therefore, if a person finds a typical bulls-eye skin rash developing in an area of a tick bite, they should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Generally, antibiotic treatment resolves the rash within one or two weeks with no long-term consequences. Later illnesses such as nervous-system disease might require intravenous drugs examples are ceftriaxone and penicillin G. There are no home remedies to treat Lyme disease.
In those people with two or more episodes of erythema migrans rash, even years apart, it is felt that the episodes represent different infections or reinfection rather than persistence of the original infection.
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Inspection And Tick Removal
Because recommendations for avoidance are not always practical, particularly for children and during the summer, daily close inspection for ticks should be performed each time one has been outdoors. Parents of children in endemic areas must be vigilant to check for ticksespecially the nymphs, because of their smaller size from the spring to the fall. Checking inside skin folds, behind ears, the umbilicus, groin, axilla, hairline, and scalp must be routine. If one tick is found, search thoroughly for others.
See the image below for a tick removal diagram and instructions.
While these instructions may represent the optimal method for removing the tick, it is more important to remove it promptly than to delay removing it while obtaining forceps or gloves.
A common misperception is that pressing a hot match to the tick or trying to smother it with petroleum jelly, gasoline, nail polish, or other noxious substances is beneficial. This only prolongs exposure time and may cause the tick to eject infectious organisms into the body. Finally, do not squeeze, crush, or puncture the body of the tick because its fluids may contain infectious organisms.
Once the tick is removed, wash the bite area with soap and water or with an antiseptic to destroy any contaminating microorganisms. Additionally, the person who removed the tick should wash his or her hands. The removed tick should be submitted for species identification.