Lyme Disease

Lyme disease, likewise known as borreliosis, is an infectious disease caused by bacterium borrelia. 

The four Borrelia bacteria that cause Lyme disease are:

  • Borrelia burgdorferi
  • Borrelia mayonii
  • Borrelia afzelii
  • Borrelia garinii

These four species of bacteria are transmitted by an infected black-legged tick, also known as a deer tick. Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia Mayonii are the major causes of Lyme disease in North America, while Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii are the prime causes in Asia and Europe. 

Lyme disease was first discovered in 1975 in the town of Old Lyme, Connecticut. It is the most prevalent disease transmitted by ticks in the northern hemisphere. It is assumed to affect 300,000 people per year in the united states and 65,000 people in Europe per year. 

Lyme disease Causes 

People get Lyme disease when an infected tick bites them. The chances of being bitten by a tick and infected with Lyme disease are:

  • Outdoor camping.
  • Hiking.
  • Spending time in a wooded or grassy areas
  • Being a hunter
  • Living in a rural area
  • Exposing bare skin in the woods
  • Late removal of tick

Lyme Disease Symptoms

Here are signs and symptoms of Lyme disease: 

  • Erythema migrans: A non-itchy, painless expanding area of redness on the skin that appears a week after a tick bite at the site of the bite. The rash is flat, circular, and look like red oval or bull’s eyes.
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Swollen joints with pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sleep issues
  • Neck stiffness
  • Inability to move one or both sides of face/ drooping on one or both sides of the face (facial paralysis)
  • Tingling sensation in arms and legs
  • Numbness in extremities
  • Fast heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Palpitations
  • Problems with memories (forgetfulness)
  • Fatigue (severe weakness)

3 Stages of Lyme Disease According to Duration and Symptoms:

STAGE 1: Early localized (3-30 days after tick bite) include: 

STAGE 2: Early disseminated (untreated infection; days to weeks after a tick bite) include: 

  • Expanded rash (erythema migrans)
  • Pain in bite site
  • Facial Paralysis( weakness in face muscles)
  • Severe headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Swollen, painful large joint
  • Muscle pains
  • Heart palpitations

STAGE 3: Late disseminated (months to years after tick bite) include: 

  • Muscle spasms (abnormal muscle movements)
  • Arthritis (joint swelling and pain)
  • Numbness in extremities
  • Tingling sensation in extremities
  • Fatigue
  • Memory impairment
  • Psychiatric disturbances
  • Disorientation
  • Slow mental processing

What Happens If Lyme disease goes untreated? 

If left untreated at an early stage of the Lyme disease, after several weeks or months, complications that will develop may include:

  • Facial nerve paralysis.
  • Meningitis.
  • Arthritis.

Can Lyme disease be passed from person to person?

Lyme disease is not contagious between people or transferrable from mother to unborn child. Humans do not transmit it. Ticks only transmit it.

Lyme disease diagnosis

  • History revealing the presence of risk factors
  • Physical examination of rash and complaints, for example, arthritis
  • Enzyme-Linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) or immunofluorescence assay: To detect antibodies to B. Burgdorferi 
  • Western blot test: To confirm diagnosis
  • Lumbar puncture
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): to rule out other possible causes of neurological symptoms
  • Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)

Lyme disease treatment

The early stages of Lyme disease can be cured in 90% of patients, but late stages prove difficult to cure in about 10% of patients. So if diagnosed in the early stages, it can be cured with the following:

  1. Antibiotics: Doxycycline (is the first choice of antibiotics used), Amoxicillin, Cefuroxime. And Azithromycin.
  2. For cases with Lyme arthritis, facial palsy, or cardiac diseases: intravenous ceftriaxone is used as the first choice of treatment.
  3. Pain is managed with Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). 
  4. Physical exercise/activities are advised to be limited in order to prevent further damage to joints.

Lyme disease prevention

Lyme disease can be prevented by wearing long clothing items, wearing socks in the woods, using ticks repellent, tick removal with tweezers. Also, by putting exposed clothing in a hot dryer to kill any tick that got stuck to your clothing items.

NOTE:

  • Lyme disease is more common in men
  • Doxycycline increases the risk of sunburns. Therefore, those on doxycycline should avoid the sun.
  • Treatments of Lyme Disease last for a maximum of 4 weeks.
  • Corticosteroids are not recommended for Lyme Disease 
  • Reinfection is possible after treatments, so preventing future tick bite is advised.