Welcome To The School Of Lyme 6 Tips For Those Newly Diagnosed With Lyme Disease
Every day, I receive emails from people who have recently been diagnosed with Lyme disease. As most of us do when we hear a new medical term or leave a doctors office, these people frantically search the web looking for information. Sometimes they come across one of my blog posts. Then they write with questions about treatment, with requests for finding a good doctor and with prayers that I will be able to offer them some hope. Most of all, they want to know: What do I do to get better?
Because I find myself offering the same responses to many such patients, I thought I would create a School of Lyme For the Newly Diagnosed. Consider this a brief survey course on tick-borne illness, open to anyone who wants to learn the basics of what to do when you get a Lyme diagnosis.
Lesson 1: Its Lyme, not Lymes!
Its important to know the correct name of your disease! Many people mistakenly call it Lymes disease, assuming it was discovered by a Dr. Lyme. In fact, Lyme is named for the town in which it was first detected: Lyme, Connecticut. As for the names of co-infections, those are not as simple, but should still be part of your working vocabulary well get to those in Lesson 5.
Lesson 2: All cases are different
Lesson 3: Find an LLMD
Lesson 4: Get tested for co-infections
Lesson 5: Take probiotics
Lesson 6: Dont panic
Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.
Is There A Vaccine That Will Protect My Dog From Lyme Disease
A safe and generally effective vaccine is available for protecting dogs against Lyme disease. This vaccine is initially given twice, at two- to four-week intervals.
“Annual revaccination is necessary to maintain immunity.”
Annual revaccination is necessary to maintain immunity. Vaccination against Lyme disease will be determined by your pet’s lifestyle and individual risk assessment. Be sure to discuss any questions you may have regarding the type and frequency of vaccination with your veterinarian.
Stage : Early Disseminated Lyme Disease
Here, the stages of one and two can overlap. As the bacteria continues to spread, the rash may also spread to other areas of the body. Neurological symptoms may begin to affect the nervous system and heart. Other symptoms can include:
- Multiple erythema migrans skin lesions
- Pain and numbness in the legs or arms
- Inability to move muscles of the face
- Headaches and fainting continue to occur
- Inability to concentrate and loss of short-term memory
- Pinkeye can occur due to damage to the tissue of the eyes
- Brief moments of joint pain, including swelling and redness of the knees or other joints
- Heart problems can develop such as palpitations of the heart
Should you or a loved one be experiencing any of the following symptoms and are in an area known for cases of Lyme disease or have been bitten by a tick, it is important that you seek medical care from your doctor to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.
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Stage : Early Localized Disease
Symptoms of Lyme disease usually start 1 to 2 weeks 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 it isnt painful and doesnt itch. This rash will gradually fade in most people.
The formal name for this rash is erythema migrans. Erythema migrans is said to be characteristic of Lyme disease. However, many people dont have this symptom.
Some people have a rash thats solid red, while people with dark complexions 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:
How Do People Get Lyme Disease
Most people get Lyme from the bite of the nymphal, or immature, form of the tick. Nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed. Because they are so tiny and their bite is painless, many people do not even realize they have been bitten.
Once a tick has attached, if undisturbed it may feed for several days. The longer it stays attached, the more likely it will transmit the Lyme and other pathogens into your bloodstream. Refer to tick section.
If pregnant women are infected, they sometimes pass Lyme disease to their unborn children and, while not common, stillbirth has occurred. Some doctors believe other types of human-to-human transmission are possible but little is known for certain.
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What Is The Outlook For Someone With Lyme Disease
Most of the people who get Lyme disease and treated early will be fine.
Even after proper treatment, some patients may experience lingering fatigue, achiness or headaches. This does not signify ongoing infection and will not respond to additional antibiotics. The majority of people in this group will have symptoms resolve over the next 1-6 months.
Chronic Lyme Syndrome
Chronic Lyme syndrome is a term used by some that includes the symptoms of Post-Lyme syndrome outlined above. This is a controversial topic with no accepted etiology and no proven cause or association.
Testing For Lyme Disease In Dogs
Lyme disease spread by ticks can be diagnosed with a simple blood tests in your veterinarian’s clinic. The C6 test is very sensitive and specific at diagnosing cases of Lyme disease and depending on clinical signs and concurrent results, treatment may be started immediately. If treatment has been successful, reductions in the QC6 at six months should be lower than the starting point.
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Living With Lyme Disease
Most people treated in the early stages of Lyme disease make a quick and complete recovery. Some may experience symptoms for a few weeks after treatment. If you were treated for Lyme disease but you still dont feel well, call your family doctor. He or she can make sure there isnt something else wrong. They can help you find ways to ease your symptoms. Some patients have found relief with treatments typically used for chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia.
Other things you can do to help manage Lyme disease include:
- Educate yourself.There is a lot of inaccurate information to be sorted through, especially on the internet. Ask your doctor if you have questions.
- Track your symptoms.Keep a diary of your sleep patterns, eating habits, exercise routines, and how youre feeling. You or your doctor may be able to make connections between them.
- Take care of yourself.Eat a healthy diet. Exercise as regularly as you can. Get plenty of rest.
Find support. It can be hard to not feel well and not know why. Some people may think your symptoms arent real. Talk to friends and family. If they cant offer support, talk with a counselor who can help you.
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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How Do Horses Get Lyme Disease
Lyme disease gets its name from the town where it was first identified as a unique syndromeLyme, Connecticutin 1975. The disease is caused by the spirochete bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, and is transferred to horses through infected ticks. There are several types of ticks that can transfer the bacterium, but the most common one is known as a deer tick .
To transfer the bacteria, the infected tick must bite the horse and, researchers believe, must stay attached to the horse for at least 24 hours to successfully transmit the bacteria to the horse. Horses do not transmit the disease to other horses.
Because the bacteria must be transferred via tick, the disease is common in tick-hospitable environments, such as woodsy areas.
Dr. SallyAnne DeNotta spent many years practicing in the Northeast United States where Lyme disease is well known, but now works as a clinical assistant professor of large-animal internal medicine at the University of Florida.
The thing to know about Lyme disease in horses, and people and dogs too, is that many, many horses will get infected with borrelia but never develop clinical signs, Dr. DeNotta says. So you can be exposed, you can be infected, you can develop antibodies and even an immunity to borrelia, but never actually have any negative effects that could be attributed to Lyme disease.
It is very common for a horse to show evidence of antibody levels in their blood, but to be completely asymptomatic and healthy.
How Can You Prevent Lyme Disease
Now you know the answer to “Can you die from Lyme disease?” is yes, so preventing it in the first place is significantly essential. The two types of ticks that spread Lyme disease live in wooded and high grass areas, so extra precaution should be taken in those places. Other recommendations include:
- Learn which tick borne diseases are common in your area.
- Avoid areas with leaf litter, thick vegetation, and high grass.
- When hiking, walk in the center of trails.
- Use repellent that contains 30 percent DEET on exposed skin.
- Treat clothing and gear with products containing permethrin.
- Regularly treat pets with products that kill and/or repel ticks.
- Look for crawling ticks before they bite you, and bathe or shower after coming indoors.
- Remove all attached ticks immediately with tweezers.
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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.
Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented
To prevent Lyme disease, you should lower your risk of getting a tick bite:
- Avoid areas where ticks live, such as grassy, brushy, or wooded areas. If you are hiking, walk in the center of the trail to avoid brush and grass.
- Use an insect repellent with DEET
- Treat your clothing and gear with a repellant containing 0.5% permethrin
- Wear light-colored protective clothing, so you can easily see any ticks that get on you
- Wear a long-sleeve shirt and long pants. Also tuck your shirt into your pants and your pant legs into your socks.
- Check yourself, your children, and your pets daily for ticks. Carefully remove any ticks you find.
- Take a shower and wash and dry your clothes at high temperatures after being outdoors
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Diagnosis Testing And Treatment
You may have heard that the blood test for Lyme disease is correctly positive only 65% of the time or less. This is misleading information. As with serologic tests for other infectious diseases, the accuracy of the test depends upon how long youve been infected. During the first few weeks of infection, such as when a patient has an erythema migrans rash, the test is expected to be negative.
Several weeks after infection, FDA cleared tests have very good sensitivity.
It is possible for someone who was infected with Lyme disease to test negative because:
If you are pregnant and suspect you have contracted Lyme disease, contact your physician immediately.
- Report being bitten by a tick, or
- Live in, or have recently visited, a tick-infested area.
Lyme Disease In Horses: Symptoms Treatment And Prevention
Grooming your horse every day and checking for ticks is one of the best preventative measures against Lyme disease. PHOTO: Andrea Caudill
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The signs can be vague and mysterious. A thumbnail-size lump on the body, general lethargy and sore joints could point to anything or nothing at all, which is exactly the problem posed by Lyme disease in horses, which can present as a number of rather generic symptoms.
If you live in an area where ticks are common, Lyme disease is a possibility for humans and horses alike. While it is usually a treatable disease, it is one where an ounce of prevention is the best option.
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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.
How Does Lyme Disease Affect Horses
Diagnosing Lyme disease is a difficult endeavor.
The horses that do develop Lyme disease, the symptoms are vague and somewhat nonspecific, which makes this a difficult disease, Dr. DeNotta says. Theres a lot of confusion, theres a lot of controversy.
The signs of the disease are general and can be indicative of a number of other diseases.
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Treatment For Erythema Migrans
People treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely. Early diagnosis and proper antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease can help prevent late Lyme disease.
Treatment regimens listed in the following table are for the erythema migrans rash, the most common manifestation of early Lyme disease. These regimens may need to be adjusted depending on a persons age, medical history, underlying health conditions, pregnancy status, or allergies. Consult an infectious disease specialist regarding individual patient treatment decisions.
|100 mg, twice per day orally
|500 mg, three times per day orally
|500 mg, twice per day orally
|4.4 mg/kg per day orally, divided into 2 doses
|100 mg per dose
|50 mg/kg per day orally, divided into 3 doses
|500 mg per dose
|30 mg/kg per day orally, divided into 2 doses
|500 mg per dose
*When different durations of antibiotics are shown to be effective for the treatment of Lyme disease, the shorter duration is preferred to minimize unnecessary antibiotics that might result in adverse effects, including infectious diarrhea and antimicrobial resistance.
NOTE: For people intolerant of amoxicillin, doxycycline, and cefuroxime, the macrolide azithromycin may be used, although it is less effective. People treated with azithromycin should be closely monitored to ensure that symptoms resolve.
What Is The Treatment For Lyme Disease
Patients treated with antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover quickly and completely. Antibiotics commonly used for treatment include doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil. Patients with certain neurologic or cardiac forms of illness may require additional treatment. It is important to speak with your health care provider if you think you might have Lyme disease. The best treatment for Lyme disease is prevention and awareness.
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