Lyme Disease Resource Page by Vitalitymedical.com
Lyme disease is an illness that results from an infection from a bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto in the United States. The disease was named after Old Lyme, Connecticut, where it was first identified in 1975. It is most commonly transmitted to humans by deer ticks after 36 hours of exposure. Lyme disease has never been known to transmit from one human to another or through food or water. Infections typically occur during the spring and the beginning of the summer season. When it comes to diseases transmitted by insects, Lyme disease is the most common.
How to Avoid Lyme Disease
The best way to avoid Lyme disease and maintain your medical vitality is to prevent ticks from coming into contact with the skin. This means wearing pants and shirts with sleeves long enough to cover one's extremities. When going into areas where ticks are known to reside, such as wooded areas or even one's backyard, it is recommended to wear long socks with pants tucked into them as well as gloves and a hat. Since ticks like to jump from bushes and grass onto their victims, people should stay on well-worn trails and avoid walking through vegetation. Insect repellant can also prevent contact with ticks carrying Lyme disease as long as it is rated as having 20 percent or more of the chemical known as DEET. Yards should be kept clear of leaves and vegetation where ticks reside, such as bushes. After venturing into risky areas, always check for ticks, as they may not have attached themselves yet. If a tick has attached itself to the skin, grasp it by the mouth or head using tweezers and lift it without crushing it.
- Lyme Disease Prevention
- How to Avoid and Treat Tick Bites
- Ticks and Lyme Disease: A Guide for Preventing Lyme Disease
- Preventing Lyme Disease: Five Ways to Avoid Getting Bitten
Ticks That Carry Lyme Disease
There are two types of ticks that carry Lyme disease. These are the black-legged deer tick, or Ixodes scapularis, which is found in the eastern and northern Midwest areas of the United States, and Ixodes pacificus, the deer tick that resides in the Pacific coastal region. Other species are unlikely to transmit the bacteria, and among the species of deer tick that do, up to 50 percent may be carriers. These ticks typically inhabit yards, woodlands, and low grassy areas, and they lie in wait for people to pass by before leaping and latching onto their skin.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
Symptoms vary from person to person but can begin to appear starting three days after infection has occurred. Initially, an infected person may notice a rash at the bite area, and they may experience headaches, fatigue, fevers and chills, or pain in the joints or muscles. Lyme disease in its earliest stages can easily be mistaken for the flu. As the infection progresses, paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face may occur, giving the appearance of Bell's palsy. Other symptoms include memory problems, meningitis-related inflammation, swollen glands, and abnormal heart rates. People may also suffer from a stiff neck, reduced appetite, dizzy spells, or arthritis-like symptoms, and additional rashes may start to appear.
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- Health Library: Ticks and Lyme Disease
- Fact Sheet: Lyme Disease (PDF)
Diagnosing Lyme Disease
A Lyme disease diagnosis is generally a difficult process. One of the reasons for this is that a diagnosis partially relies on symptoms and signs that are being exhibited, but these symptoms can also readily be found in other conditions. For some people, the rash associated with the disease is a fair indicator; however, not everyone develops the rash. Doctors often resort to lab tests that are taken several weeks after the initial infection as well as a physical exam and detailed history. Common lab tests include the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test, or ELISA, which is the test that most often identifies the B. burgdorferi antibodies associated with Lyme disease. A confirmation test called the Western blot test is also given if there is a positive result with ELISA. Results may not be 100 percent accurate, however.
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- Lyme Disease: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
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Chronic Lyme Disease
Chronic Lyme disease is a condition that also goes by the term post-treatment lyme disease, or PTLD. For some people who have been treated for Lyme disease, symptoms such as extreme fatigue, muscle aches, and pain in the joints may linger even after treatment. In some cases, this may continue for six months or longer. Doctors are not positive about the reason for this condition, but some believe it comes from damage to the immune system caused by the infection. This may also occur if diagnosis and treatment were not started early enough. There is some controversy surrounding PTLD, as some people who have been diagnosed with the condition have never had Lyme disease.
- Lyme Disease: Chronic Persistent
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What to Do if You Have Lyme Disease
If a person receives a positive diagnosis for Lyme disease, they will need to follow their doctor's orders regarding treatment in order to obtain improved medical vitality. Treatment typically comes in the form of antibiotics that must be taken for as long as four weeks or as few as two weeks. It is important for people to follow their doctor's instructions and not stop the therapy until the prescribed end date. If diagnosed with PTLD, no antibiotic treatment is necessary.
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- Rush University Medical Center Lyme Disease
- Lyme Disease: Six Prevention and Treatment Tips