Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Borrelia Burgdorferi. A black-legged tick or deer tick becomes infected after feeding on an infected deer or mice. When these ticks bite a human, they transmit this infection to them. However, ticks are required to attach themselves to the surface of the skin of humans from 24 to 48 hours to transmit this disease. Many often, patients do not have the memory of a tick bite.
Symptoms of Lyme disease
The symptoms of Lyme disease vary according to the different stages. There are three different stages of this disease – early localized, early disseminated, and late disseminated.
- Early localized Lyme disease
This is the first stage of the disease when the symptoms start appearing almost one to two weeks after a tick bite. The infected person develops a skin rash that resembles a “bull’s eye” with a red spot at the center, surrounded by a clear spot with redness at its edge. This type of rash is also called erythema migrans. This symptom signifies that bacteria are multiplying in the blood. This rash doesn’t cause any pain or itching, and many people might not have this symptom. They might develop a rash that is red in color, while people with dark complexion might have them appearing as a bruise.
- Early disseminated Lyme disease
The next stage in Lyme disease is an early disseminated stage. In this stage, bacteria spread throughout the body. Patients develop symptoms like fever, sore throat, fatigue, pain in the muscle or head, and changes in vision. The lymph nodes might also get enlarged. Rashes might appear in different parts of the body apart from the site of the tick bite, and patients might also develop complications like meningitis. The symptoms of stages 1 and 2 can sometimes overlap.
- Late disseminated Lyme disease
This is an advanced stage in Lyme disease if the symptoms are not detected in stages 1 and 2 and are left untreated. The symptoms of this stage might take weeks, months, or even years to die out after the tick bite. The symptoms include difficulty in concentrating, severe headaches, and numbness in the arms, hands, legs, and feet. Patients might develop arthritis at different joints. Other symptoms include short-term memory loss or difficulties in following a conversation.
Prevention of Lyme disease
Ticks are very small in size, and it is not easy to locate them on the skin. Besides, a tick bite often goes unnoticed. However, keeping a few things in mind can help people avoid tick bites in different situations and can, therefore, help prevent the occurrence of Lyme disease.
- Wear covered clothes when outdoors, especially in the woods.
- Keep the yard free of ticks by keeping woodpiles in sunny areas.
- Use insect repellents during the time one is outdoors. It will provide protection against ticks for about 2 hours. However, children under the age of 3 should be kept out of the reach of such repellents.
- Ticks should be removed with tweezers. Also, one should ensure that no parts of ticks are attached to the skin.
Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics, so one should keep a watch for the symptoms so that early treatment could help in relieving them.