Lyme Signs & Symptoms Print E-mail

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme is a Multi-Systemic Disease caused by the bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) which normally is a bacterial spirochete (spiral shape).* 

Scope10*Slide of Borrrelia burgdorferi spirochete. Courtsey of Alan MacDonald, MD.

It is usually transmitted by the bite of the Black Legged Tick; also known as the Deer Tick (Ixodes Scapularis). Lyme disease may also be transmitted in utero; from a mother to her unborn baby.

Borrelia burgdorferi has been found in breast milk; however at this time it is inconclusive as to the transmission of illness.  Other Tick-borne infections have been directly transmitted through the blood supplyAt this time there are no recorded cases of direct transmission of Bb via blood.

What are the Signs & Symptoms of Lyme disease?

painlocation copyApproximately 50% of patients who contract Lyme disease will remember having a rash. The official name of the rash is Erythema Chronicum Migrans (EM) and it is usually looks like a Bull’s Eye in shape. If you have the Bull’s Eye Rash you have Lyme disease!*  

The rash may appear on other places on your body than the bite site (Disseminated disease). It may begin as a single circular red mark that spreads outwards.  As it disseminates over the skin it becomes lighter in the area nearer to the center of the bite.  In people of color the rash may appear more like a bruise.  The rash is usually not itchy. The rash can be mistaken for a spider bite.

Studies vary as to how long the tick must feed on you in order to transmit disease. What we do know is the longer an infected tick is embedded in your skin the greater the chance there is to contract disease.

* Centers for Disease Control & Prenvention (CDC) criteria are for surveillance purposes, not diagnosis.  According to the CDC surveillance criteria, an erythema migrans  (EM) rash in an endemic area, means Lyme disease.  In a non-endemic area, rash requires a positive test.

To see a gallery of verified EM and other Tick Borne Disease related rashes go to http://www.lymediseaseassociation.org/index.php/component/phocagallery/category/28-lyme

Since Lyme disease is a multi-systemic illness there is a multitude of symptoms associated with the illness.  Some include;

Diagnosis & Treatment

Lyme disease is a Clinical Diagnosis. Not all tests for Lyme disease are accurate, but may be helpful. You may have the infection and yet your tests can be negative due to the lack of immune response to the bacteria. Your doctor will carefully go over your medical history and symptoms.

Early appropriate treatment will increase chances of eradicating the disease and may prevent you from developing chronic Lyme disease.

Peer reviewed and published Scientific Research supports that Lyme can become chronic. In some cases Lyme disease has resulted in death of the infected individual.

A physician or qualified medical practitioner diagnoses and treats Lyme disease. Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics. Antibotics may be given orally, inter-muscularly (IM) or by intravenous therapy (IV). Only a qualified medical practitioner can prescribe your course of treatment.

You can contract more than one Tick-Borne Disease from the same tick bite. To see the full list go to http://www.lymediseaseassociation.org/index.php/about-lyme/other-tick-borne-diseases

The Lyme Disease Association, Inc. recommends the Diagnosis and Treatment Guidelines of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS).  ILADS is comprised of International Respected Leaders in Lyme disease and Tick- Borne Scientific Researchhttp://www.ilads.org

The LDA also works closely with the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center at the Columbia University Medical Center.  http://www.columbia-lyme.org 

Knowing the Signs & Symptoms of Lyme disease is the first crucial step to getting help. 

©LDA.  2015.  This web site provides practical and useful information on the subject matters covered. It is distributed with the understanding that LDA is not engaged in rendering medical or other professional services. Seek professional services if necessary.


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