Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is an infectious disease caused by bacteria of the Borrelia type. The most common sign of infection is an expanding area of redness, known as erythema migrans, that begins at the site of a tick bite about a week after it has occurred.The rash is typically neither itchy nor painful.
Approximately 25–50% of infected people do not develop a rash. Other early symptoms may include fever, headache and feeling tired. If untreated, symptoms may include loss of the ability to move one or both sides of the face, joint pains, severe headaches with neck stiffness, or heart palpitations, among others. Months to years later, repeated episodes of joint pain and swelling may occur.
Occasionally, people develop shooting pains or tingling in their arms and legs. Despite appropriate treatment, about 10 to 20% of people develop joint pains, memory problems, and feel tired for at least six months.
Lyme disease is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected ticks of the Ixodes genus.Usually, the tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours before the bacteria can spread, In North America, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto and Borrelia mayonii are the cause. In Europe and Asia, the bacteria Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii are also causes of the disease. The disease does not appear to be transmissible between people, by other animals, or through food. Diagnosis is based upon a combination of symptoms, history of tick exposure, and possibly testing for specific antibodies in the blood. Blood tests are often negative in the early stages of the disease. Testing of individual ticks is not typically useful.
Prevention includes efforts to prevent tick bites such as by wearing long pants and using DEET. Using pesticides to reduce tick numbers may also be effective. Ticks can be removed using tweezers. If the removed tick was full of blood, a single dose of doxycycline may be used to prevent development of infection, but is not generally recommended since development of infection is rare.If an infection develops, a number of antibiotics are effective, including doxycycline, amoxicillin, and cefuroxime. Treatment is usually for two or three weeks. Some people develop a fever and muscle and joint pains from treatment which may last for one or two days. In those who develop persistent symptoms, long-term antibiotic therapy has not been found to be useful.
Lyme disease is the most common disease spread by ticks in the Northern Hemisphere. It is estimated to affect 300,000 people a year in the United States and 65,000 people a year in Europe. Infections are most common in the spring and early summer. Lyme disease was diagnosed as a separate condition for the first time in 1975 in Old Lyme, Connecticut. It was originally mistaken for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The bacterium involved was first described in 1981 by Willy Burgdorfer. Chronic symptoms are well described and are known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, although it is often called chronic Lyme disease. Some healthcare providers claim that it is due to ongoing infection; however, this is not believed to be true. A previous vaccine is no longer available. Research is ongoing to develop new vaccines.
They mimic the flu — fever, chills, headache, fatigue, and muscle and joint aches. The appearance of a “bulls-eye” rash — the kind with a spot in the middle and a ring around it — is a clearer warning sign. It shows up in almost all people infected with Lyme and begins at the site of the tick bite after 3 to 30 days (but on average, appears in about 7 days) and gradually expands. It isn’t itchy or painful.
The rash is a pretty good indication that you may have been bitten. At this stage of the illness, treatment with antibiotics will likely be successful
With the antibiotics amoxicillin and tetracycline, usually for 10-21 days, Other antibiotics that may be used include cefuroxime or doxycycline. If you’re treated early in the infection stage, a full recovery is likely.
Ticks can’t fly or jump, but instead live in shrubs and bushes, and grab onto someone when they pass by. To avoid getting bitten, wear pants and socks in the woods, areas with lots of trees, and while handling 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, if possible. It lets you look at your skin and wash ticks out of your hair. Also, put your clothing and any exposed gear into a hot dryer to kill whatever pests might remain.
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