What Is Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is an infection caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. This spiral shaped bacterium is most commonly spread by a tick bite. The disease takes its name from Lyme, Connecticut. This is where the illness was first identified in the United States in 1975.
Although Lyme disease is a year-round problem, April through October is considered tick season. Cases of Lyme disease have been reported in nearly all states in the U.S. and in large areas in Europe and Asia, but the most common areas are the Northeast, upper Midwest and northwestern states.
What Can I Do To Lower My Chances Of Getting Lyme Disease Or Any Other Disease From Ticks
Prevention begins with you! Take steps to reduce your chances of being bitten by any tick. Ticks are most active during warm weather, generally late spring through fall. However, ticks can be out any time that temperatures are above freezing. Ticks cling to vegetation and are most numerous in brushy, wooded or grassy habitats. When you are outside in an area likely to have ticks , follow these simple steps to protect yourself and your loved ones:
How To Identify Deer Ticks
The first step to minimizing the risk of contracting Lyme disease is knowing how to properly identify a deer tick. Some other species, such as the dog tick, can appear like the deer tick. However, the dog tick has white markings on its underside where the deer tick is a solid color. Adult deer ticks are the size of a sesame seed, with a shield-like scutum behind the head, reddish-brown lower bodies, black legs, and heads. Larval or nymph deer ticks are even smaller, the size of a poppy seed or even the head of a pin. Adult ticks have the expected eight legs that mark an arachnid, while larval ticks only have six.
Don’t Miss: Dr Mark Hyman Lyme Disease
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.
Where Are Ticks That Carry Lyme Disease Found
Ticks that carry Lyme disease can be found anywhere their hosts live, in short, anywhere in the world. They prefer moist shady areas. The phrase deer tick, the name commonly used for the species of ticks that carry Lyme disease, is somewhat of a misnomer. Although deer are important as reproductive hosts in the lifecycle of these ticks, other vertebrate animals actually infect the ticks with disease organisms not the deer. These animals include white-footed mice, chipmunks, shrews, several species of ground feeding birds , and many other small mammals. Lyme disease ticks can be found in:
- Leaf litter
- Tall grass, bushy areas and beach grass
- Areas planted with pachysandra or other ground covers
- Lawn perimeters where they meet forest, woodlot or garden edges
You May Like: Symptoms Of Dog Having Lyme Disease
Video Answer: Dogs Can Get A Lyme Disease Vaccine Why Cant Humans
Home care for dogs with Lyme disease is relatively straightforward.
Doxycycline is usually given by mouth twice daily for at least 30 days.
Improvement in the dogs symptoms should be noted within 24-48 hours.
In the past, it may have been difficult for dogs to survive Lyme disease due to the inability to diagnose the disease.
Now, there are numerous tests for vets to use to determine whether or not your pooch has Lyme disease.
These symptoms are caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium in the bite of an infected tick.
There are three states of Lyme disease in dogs: acute, subacute, and chronic.
Symptoms generally do not appear until after a two- to five-month incubation period, and can take even longer.
In rare cases, kidney damage can escalate to Lyme nephritis, which is usually fatal.
Antibiotics generally provide relief from Lyme disease, but relapses can occur.
Spot-on tick-control products can kill or repel ticks that carry Lyme disease, as can some tick collars.
There is a Lyme disease vaccine for dogs, but its not always part of a dogs routine vaccination protocol.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Tick bites are usually painless and most people do not know they have been bitten. Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease vary greatly from person to person, and may appear anywhere between 3 to 30 days after a person has been bitten.
Symptoms often include:
- Swollen lymph nodes.
- Skin rash.
One sign of infection can be an expanding rash, sometimes referred to as a “bull’s eye” rash because it may have rings spreading from the bite site ). It is important to note that rashes without the bull’s eye may occur, and that rashes do not appear in every case of Lyme disease infection.
The PHAC states that if left untreated, more severe symptoms may occur and can last from months to years. Severe symptoms may include:
- Severe headaches
- Additional EM skin rashes..
- Neurological disorders
- Nervous system disorders, including facial paralysis or Bell’s palsy .
- Intermittent muscle, joint, tendon, and bone aches
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and less commonly in other joints such as the ankle, elbow, and wrists.
If untreated, a condition called late disseminated Lyme disease may occur. PHAC reports symptoms include recurring arthritis , nervous system and/or neurological problems. Symptoms can also include numbness and/or paralysis . Deaths from Lyme disease are rare but may occur.
PHAC provides more information on Lyme Disease.
Don’t Miss: Red Light Therapy For Lyme Disease
Precisely How Do Ticks Ambush Youand Give You Lyme Disease
John Eoin Healy, PhD, now retired from University College Cork, Ireland, has been researching tick biology for over 40 years. In the following article and video, he explains how questing ticks make contact with unsuspecting people and animals.
Various estimates indicate that up to 60% of people who contract Lyme borreliosis have no recollection of being bitten by a tick.
For those concerned about Lyme disease risk, it may be useful to explain how ticks make contact with and attach to host animals i.e. birds and mammals, including unfortunate humans.
The species of tick that transmits the Borrelia bacteria that cause Lyme disease are Ixodesricinus in Europe, and Ixodesscapularis and Ixodespacificus in North America. These ticks thrive in areas with woodland or heavy vegetation which provide the cool moist conditions that these ticks need to survive.
Their second vital requirement is a sufficient number of host animals to ensure that ticks have hosts on which they can feed and then reproduce. Increasing numbers of host animals such as deer will accelerate the growth of tick populations.
What Tests Are Available For Lyme Disease
When a person becomes infected, the body creates antibodies to protect itself from the bacteria. Certain blood tests are available to measure these antibodies. However, sometimes a “false negative” test can result if there are not enough antibodies in the blood for the tests to detect accurately. A doctor should also do a complete medical examination and gather information about your recent outdoor activities in order to make a clinical diagnosis for Lyme disease.
You May Like: Is Lyme Disease A Lifelong Disease
Is Lyme Disease Treatable
Yes. Lyme disease responds well to antibiotics and is curable.
Most symptoms resolve quickly after the start of antibiotics, however, it can occasionally take weeks or months for all symptoms to completely subside.
The number of days of antibiotics required depends on the symptoms present at the time of diagnosis-a typical course of antibiotics is 2-4 weeks.
How Can I Prevent Bites From Ticks And Lyme Disease
You can keep yourself, your loved ones, and your pets from encountering Lyme ticks with a few easy, Be Tick AWARE prevention steps:
- Avoid high-traffic areas known to host ticks that carry Lyme disease like tall grasses and leaf piles
- Wear clothing to protect from ticks and Lyme disease, like long sleeves, pants, and socks
- Apply EPA-approved tick repellent properly
- Remove clothing to protect from ticks and Lyme disease, like long sleeves, pants, and socks
- Examine yourself for ticks daily as the risk of Lyme disease is always there
Learn more about preventing encounters with ticks that carry Lyme disease on our prevention page.
You May Like: Summer Rentals Old Lyme Ct
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.
How Can I Prevent Lyme Disease
While walking in green spaces, consider wearing clothing that covers your skin to make it more difficult for ticks to access a suitable place to bite.
Use insect repellent such as DEET and consider wearing light coloured clothing so that you can easily spot ticks and brush them off.
After spending time outside, check yourself, your clothing, your pets and others for ticks. Remove any attached tick as soon as you find it using a tick-removal tool or fine-tipped tweezers.
More information can be found on the NHS website.
The idea of being bitten by a tick can be daunting. It is important to know that with the right precautions and by being tick aware you can help to protect yourself and your family from tick bites.
Remember that advice and treatment is readily available through the NHS. So, if you think you have been bitten by a tick and have symptoms, contact your GP and accept the treatment that is offered to you.
Also Check: Ways To Test For Lyme Disease
Why Is Tick Exposure So Dangerous At This Time Of Year
That lack of visibility gives them stealth disease-transmitting powers.
This is when a lot of people get infected, says Northeastern University professor Kim Lewis, director of the universitys Antimicrobial Discovery Center.
People are outdoors, enjoying backyards, parks and hiking trails. But if they cant see the tick that bit them to remove it with a pair of tweezers, they give the tiny ticks more time to feed on them and transmit pathogens with their saliva.
No wonder then that Massachusetts state public health officials say the majority of cases of tick-borne disease, including Lyme disease, occur from June to August.
At this stage of development, deer ticks are known as nymphs. They will hang around until August, when if they are lucky enough to get a blood meal they will turn into adults, says Larry Dapsis, entomologist with the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension.
Adult deer ticks actually are more likely to carry the bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, that causes Lyme disease, Dapsis says. But being more visiblethey are sesame seed-sizedthe adults are more likely to be spotted and pulled off before they can do any damage.
The infection rate for nymphal ticks is 20% compared to the adult stage, which is 50%. But the nymphs are responsible for 85% of all tick-borne diseases, Dapsis says.
The nymphs emerge in mid- to late-May and tend to lurk in the leaf litter, unlike the adults that perch on grasses and shrubs that are knee high.
How Long Does It Take The Tick To Transmit Lyme
Experts disagree about how long it takes a tick to transmit Lyme disease. The CDC says that in most cases, the tick must be attached more than 24 hours.
We think that gives people a false sense of security. In some research studies, 5-7% of nymphs transmitted the Lyme bacteria in less than 24 hours. One paper reported on a case of Lyme disease transmitted after six hours of tick attachment. The risk may be low the first day, but its not zero.
Furthermore, some studies show that only 30% of patients with Lyme disease recall a tick bite. If people dont even realize that they were bitten, how could they know how long the tick was attached?
The longer a tick stays on you, the more likely it will transmit disease. Its important to find and remove any tick as soon as possible.
Recommended Reading: What Is Lyme Disease In Humans
Treatment For Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is commonly treated with antibiotics, the most common being doxycycline. However, the specific antibiotic depends on many factors such as known allergies and interactions with other medications. All medications taken for any illness should be prescribed by a healthcare professional. While antibiotics like doxycycline may be easy to obtain online, exact dosages depend on the individual. Improper dosage of antibiotics can cause resistance, ineffectiveness, illness, or even death in some cases.
How Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented
In areas where ticks are found, people should know about the risk of Lyme disease and should take precautions to protect themselves. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease so it can be detected and treated promptly. PHAC states that removing ticks within 24 to 36 hours after the tick bite usually prevents infection.
PHAC has also prepared a Lyme disease tool kit which provides material to raise awareness and educate.
Also Check: Dr Gregory Bach Lyme Disease
If I Find An Engorged Tick On My Body Should I Get A Blood Test For Lyme Disease
No. The blood test for Lyme is not useful until two to six weeks after infection develops. It is best to remove the tick and monitor for symptoms. If signs or symptoms of Lyme disease develop see your health care provider to decide whether treatment is necessary. However, the blood tests for Lyme disease are useful and reliable in situations where the symptoms have been present for more than 30 days or it has been over 30 days since the known tick bite.
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.
|Contributors: Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM Ernest Ward, DVM|
Also Check: Lyme Disease Diagnosis And Treatment
Who Is At Risk For Lyme Disease
Anyone can get a tick bite. But people who spend lots of time outdoors in wooded, grassy areas are at a higher risk. This includes campers, hikers, and people who work in gardens and parks.
Most tick bites happen in the summer months when ticks are most active and people spend more time outdoors. But you can get bitten in the warmer months of early fall, or even late winter if temperatures are unusually high. And if there is a mild winter, ticks may come out earlier than usual.
Recommended Reading: Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome Mayo Clinic
How Do I Remove A Tick From My Dog
Check your pet immediately after it has been in a tick-infected area. The deer tick is a small tick and only about pinhead size in juvenile stage, but is a little more obvious in the adult phase and after feeding. If you find a tick moving on your pet, the tick has not fed. Remove the tick promptly and place it in rubbing alcohol or crush it between two solid surfaces. If you find a tick attached to your pet, grasp the tick with fine tweezers or your finger nails near the dog’s skin and firmly pull it straight out. There are also tools available called Tick Twister® or Tick Key® which can be useful. However, take care to use them cautiously as twisting or jerking the tick may cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. See your veterinarian if you are unsure or unable to remove the tick from your dog.
Make sure you protect your fingers from exposure by using a tissue or a disposable glove.You may need another person to help restrain your dog. Removing the tick quickly is important since the disease does not appear to be transmitted until the tick has fed for approximately 12 hours. If you crush the tick, do not get the tick’s contents, including blood, on your skin.
Note: The bacterium that causes Lyme disease can pass through a wound or cut in your skin.
Don’t Miss: How Do You Find Out If You Have Lyme Disease
Who Is At Risk
Many occupations may be at risk, including forestry, farming, veterinarians, construction, landscaping, ground keepers, park or wildlife management, and anyone who either works outside or has contact with animals that may carry ticks
Similarly, any person who spends a lot time outdoors , especially in grassy or wooded areas may also be at risk.
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 whats 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 dont prescribe antibiotics. Each child is different, but its 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.
Also Check: Best Diet To Fight Lyme Disease