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