Whenever you go to dense woods or brushy areas, you have some chances of falling sick from Lyme disease. Usually, it happens when an infected tick bites you; however, at times you may not be even aware about it. Over 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported every year in the US alone. Lyme disease was first detected in Connecticut in the early 1970s; however, since then most states in the US have registered cases of tick bites. Dense woods or brushy areas often are the sources of ticks. Be aware that even your pet can also get infected with Lyme disease and ignoring Lyme disease could be highly hazardous to your health.
It is important to note that previous infection from Lyme disease does not reduce the chance of repeat infection if bitten by an infected tick again. The incubation time is found to be between 3 and 30 days of the bite; however, the rash that appears is usually not itchy or painful. On average, it takes about 7 days for rash to become prominent. While rash on the skin expands in several days, its size can be as large as 12 inches. Rash appears like a ‘bull’s eye’ with a red ring and center.
Usual symptoms of Lyme disease are fever, chills, fatigue, headache, joint and muscle aching, swollen lymph nodes, along with a typical skin rash known as erythema migrans. Lyme disease causes body temperature to rise above 100.4 degree F in children as well as adults. Shivering and chills are usual symptoms clubbed with pain in muscle and joints. Intermittent sweats can also be observed. Heart rate becomes rapid when inflicted with Lyme disease. The patient may feel dizzy or lightheaded and may experience weakness and fatigue. If temperature rises above 104 degree F then it may lead to hallucination, convulsions or confusion.
Untreated infection may result into spreading the disease to other parts of the body developing specific symptoms such as severe headaches, stiffness in neck due to meningitis, swelling, or pain in knee and other joints, or loss of muscle tone on sides of the face. It is important to note that nearly 10% to 20% of patients with Lyme disease may continue with certain symptoms even after treatment. Such prolonged symptoms are: joint pains, fatigue, sleep disorders, or cognitive disabilities. They are often known as Post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS).
Diagnosis is done by reviewing the patient’s history. In early stages of disease, blood testing for antibodies cannot help much; however, in later stages, a laboratory test called “EIA” (enzyme immunoassay) may be performed to ascertain the disease. When this test provides positive results, another test called “Western Blot” can be performed. When both tests provide positive results, it is diagnosed as Lyme disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasize that a Western blot test should not be conducted without completing the first-level blood screening because the Western blot alone may lead to false positive results; this may lead to unnecessary Lyme disease treatment. The Food and Drug Administration does not permit urine or other tests to ascertain Lyme disease infections.
Lyme disease can be treated by oral administration of antibiotics. When the patient is treated in the early stages of Lyme disease, the chances of complete recovery are high; however, when complications reach to the stage of cardiac or neurological involvement intravenous treatment with higher antibiotics may be necessary.
Finally, make it a point not to ignore Lyme disease. In case, if you observe the symptoms typical to Lyme disease, rush to your physician immediately before the disease inflicts a permanent damage to your vital organs.