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Lyme Disease

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Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease

What Is Lyme disease?Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia Burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick.

Lyme is also called The Great Imitator because its symptoms mimic many other diseases. Any part of the body can be affected including the brain and nervous system, muscles, joints, and the heart.

Where is Lyme found?These ticks are usually found in wooded and grassy areas. It has been found on every continent except Antarctica. The rates have increased significantly over time.

The CDC estimate that 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease every year. Diagnosing Lyme can be difficult, and many people who have Lyme may have been misdiagnosed with other conditions. Several experts believe the number of cases is much higher.

TransmissionTicks are able to attach themselves to any part of the human body. They are most often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpit, and scalp.

In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours or more before the bacterium can be transmitted. If the tick is removed quickly (within 24 hours), it greatly reduces the chances of getting Lyme disease.

Symptoms of Lyme Symptoms of early Lyme disease may seem very similar as a flu-like illness including fever, chills, sweats, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea end joint pain.

Some patients have a rash or Bells palsy (facial drooping.) Although a rash shaped like a bulls-eye is considered a characteristic of Lyme, many people develop different types of rashes. Estimates of patients who develop a rash ranges from 30% to 80%.

Types of rashes

Testing and diagnosisThe most common type of tests for Lyme disease are indirect. They measure the patients antibody response to the infection, not the infection itself.

During the first four-to-six weeks, these tests are unreliable because most people have not yet developed the antibody response that the test measures.

Types of testingEnzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) testMost often used, ELISA detects antibodies to the bacterium

Western blot testUsually done to confirm ELISA test diagnosisDone in a two-step approach

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)Detects bacterial DNA in fluid drawn from an infected joint

treatmentOral antibiotics Patients treated with antibiotics in the early stages of lime usually recover rapidly and completely Common antibiotics used include doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime are taken for two to four weeks

Intravenous antibioticsUsed for more serious cases If the disease involves the central nervous system, the doctor may recommend treatment with an intravenous antibiotic This is effective in eliminating the infection

Post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome It is not uncommon for patients to have lingering symptoms of fatigue, pain, or joint and muscle aches after they finish treatment. These symptoms can last more than 6 months. This is sometimes called chronic Lyme disease or Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome.

Medical experts believe it is a result of residual damage to tissues and the immune system that occurred during the infection.

Prevention Avoid Tick HabitatTicks tend to be near the ground, in leaf litter, grasses, bushes and fallen logs.

Dress DefensivelyWear shoes, socks, long pants, and long sleeves. Tie back long hair and wear a hat. Light colored clothing helps spot ticks before trouble is caused.

Hot DryerRunning your clothes in a hot dryer for 10 minutes prior to washing them will kill any ticks possibly left there.

Prevention continuedUse RepellentYou can purchase clothing that has been pre-treated with permethrin, or you can purchase permethrin and spray on clothing yourself. For exposed skin, repellents with DEET, picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil are most effective.

Check for TicksWhen outdoors, check your clothing and skin periodically for ticks. Brush off those that are not attached, and remove any that are.

Tick Removal

Use fine-point tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin. If you do not have tweezers, protect your fingers with a tissue or gloves Pull the tick straight out with steady, even pressure Disinfect the bite areaWash hands Dispose by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrap it tightly in tape, flush it down the toilet

Tick removal continuedDONT:Squeeze, twist, or squash itBurn itCover it with VaselineCrush the tick with your fingers Avoid folktale remedies such as "painting" the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Remove the tick as quick as possible.