Tick-borne diseases: Lyme disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial condition caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi which is a spiral-shaped bacterium. Based on studies conducted, deer ticks that were infected with the bacterium were responsible for the outbreak of arthritis. Take note that ordinary “dog ticks” and “wood ticks” do not carry the infection.

Indications of Lyme disease

In most cases, the initial symptoms of Lyme disease is a reddened rash called as erythema migrans. The rash initially develops as a small, reddish spot that spreads over days or weeks, forming a round, triangle-shaped or oval rash. Since it manifests as a reddened rash surrounding a clear middle area, the rash is strikingly similar to a bull’s eye.

The rash can range in size as a dime or cover the entire back. This initially appears within 1-4 weeks of a tick usually at the bite site. Once the infection spreads, more rashes manifest at various throughout the body.

Lyme disease

It can also be complemented by headache, fever, body aches, stiff neck and fatigue that can last for a few days up to a few weeks.

It can also be complemented by headache, fever, body aches, stiff neck and fatigue that can last for a few days up to a few weeks. If the infection is not treated, most cases can experience repeated attacks of sore and inflamed joints that last for a few days up to a few months.

Once the nervous system is affected, other symptoms such as the following can manifest:

  • Momentary paralysis of the facial muscles
  • Stiffened neck and severe headaches
  • Pain, numbness or weakness of the limbs or poor motor coordination

Diagnosis

Always bear in mind that Lyme disease can be hard to diagnose since its symptoms are strikingly similar to other conditions. Additionally, the only distinctive symptom of Lyme disease which is the reddened rash might be absent or unnoticed in some individuals. Some individuals could not recall if they were bitten by a tick due to their painless bite.

In case there is no rash present, the doctor will rely on a detailed health history, thorough physical examination and laboratory testing to check for vital clues to come up with a diagnosis.

Treatment for Lyme disease

Almost all cases of Lyme disease can be treated effectively with antibiotics. Generally, the sooner the treatment is started, the faster and more efficient the recovery will be. The antibiotics commonly used such as doxycycline or amoxicillin are taken orally for 2-4 weeks to hasten the resolution of the symptoms and typically prevents subsequent symptoms from occurring such as arthritis or other neurological issues.

Prevention

Many individuals with the condition can end up infected during the late spring, summer and up to early fall once immature ticks are out to feed. Except in warm climates, only a few tick bites occur during the winter season.

Deer ticks are often found in wooded areas and grasslands. They are quite common in areas where the 2 areas merge including neighborhood yards where deer oftentimes roam. Remember that ticks could not survive for long periods on sunny lawns since they dry out rapidly and die.

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