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Lyme Disease - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


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Lyme disease is an infection, caused by a bacterium called a spirochete. Risk factors for Lyme disease include walking in high grasses, other activities that increase tick exposure, and having a pet that may carry ticks home. The signs of early disseminated infection usually occur days to weeks after the appearance of a solitary erythema migrans lesion. In addition to multiple erythema migrans lesions, early disseminated infection may be manifest as disease of the nervous system, the musculoskeletal system, or the heart. Lyme disease is spread by these ticks when they bite the skin permitting the bacterium to infect the body. Lyme disease can cause abnormalities in the skin, joints, heart and nervous system. These symptoms can include muscle and joint pains, arthritis, stiff neck, cognitive defects, neurological complaints or fatigue. To be considered local disease the rash must be at the tick bite site with no other major organ system involvement. A rash occurring at other than the bite site in an indication of Disseminated Lyme Disease.

The symptoms of late Lyme disease include arthritis and nervous system problems. Lyme arthritis often affects only one of the large joints, such as the knee. Ticks can be found in temperate regions that may have periods of very low or high temperature and a constant high relative humidity at ground level. If Lyme disease isn't treated, it can spread to other parts of the body. Sometimes it may affect more than one joint. After the isolation of the spirochete from the midgut of Ixodes ticks, how ticks actually transmitted this new pathogen was the subject of much discussion. The hypothesis that Lyme disease spirochetes were transmitted via the salivary gland route of Ixodes ticks was confirmed when spirochetes were actually identified in tick saliva in 1987. People with joint swelling or nervous system disease may need to have special tests. It's important for you to take all the medicine your doctor prescribes to prevent the spread of Lyme disease to your joints, nervous system or heart.

Causes of Lyme

Lyme disease is caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi. Most infections occur in the late spring, summer, and early fall. Risk factors for Lyme disease include walking in high grasses, other activities that increase tick exposure, and having a pet that may carry ticks home. Red rash usually occurs at the site of the bite. However, the bite may go unnoticed. Mice and deer are the most commonly infected animals that serve as host to the tick.

Common causes and risk factors of Lyme:

  • A bacterium called a " spirochete."
  • Walking in high grasses.
  • Activities that increase tick exposure.
  • It can be transmitted by insects such as mosquitoes, flies, or fleas.
  • Having a pet that may carry ticks home.

Signs and Symptoms of Lyme

Lyme disease affects different areas of the body in varying degrees as it progresses. One sign of Lyme disease is a rash. It may begin as a small red spot and grow larger. The center may fade, creating a "bull's eye" or ring appearance, but this is not always the case. Other symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, chills, headaches, stiff neck, fatigue, muscle aches and joint pain. In a few people, early Lyme disease can spread to the heart or the nervous system. Some people with Lyme disease have many red spots. The rash may burn, hurt or itch, or you may not feel it.

Sign and symptoms may include the following :

  • Muscle pains.
  • Rash at site of bite.
  • Fever.
  • Inflammation of the heart muscle.
  • Headache.
  • Joint inflammation in the knees and other large joints.

Treatment for Lyme

Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics under the supervision of a physician. Several antibiotics are effective. Early illness is usually treated with oral medicines, for example, doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil. Swollen joints can be reduced by the doctor removing fluid from them ( arthrocentesis ). An arthrocentesis is a procedure whereby fluid is removed from a joint using a needle and syringe under sterile conditions. Minocycline is also indicated for neuroborreliosis for its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier.

Treatment may include:

  • Many anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, are sometimes prescribed to relieve joint stiffness.
  • Applying acaricides (chemicals that are toxic to ticks) to gardens, lawns, and the edge of woodlands near homes is being done in some areas.
  • Antibiotics are prescribed based on disease stages and manifestations. Doxycycline, tetracycline, cefuroxime, ceftriaxone, and penicillin are some of the choices.
  • Minocycline is also indicated for neuroborreliosis for its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier.
  • No particular choice and method is superior to another - the decision is made by the infectious disease specialist and is dependent on the individual circumstances.