By: Garrison FItzgerald
Lyme disease has only been known since 1975. It gets the name Lyme disease because that's where the disease started in Lyme Connecticut where three mother told researchers that their kids had all been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which was rare. The scientists did some further digging and found this disease. Lyme disease is only known to be carried by ticks in the U.S.. Ticks carry the bacteria and infect humans after biting them causing a rash and flu like symptoms, then later on, the disease can cause abnormalities in the human nervous system, joints, and heart. The disease affects the body by causing joint stiffness, swollen glands, fatigue, head aches, and fever. Later stages of the disease can cause inflammation of the heart muscle resulting in abnormal heart beats and even heart failure. It also affects the nervous system sometimes causing facial paralysis, meningitis, and confusion. The arthritis that lyme disease cause can become reoccurring and very difficult to get rid of. To top things off some infected people have an increased rate of anxiety and depression
Scientists and researchers in the U.S. have found only one cause of this disease, are deer ticks that carry a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. However in Europe other bacteria called Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii also cause Lyme Disease. Ticks carrying the bacteria, essentially acting as a parasite, bite humans and the bacteria is then transferred to the human, who is the host. Most of the ticks start off on deer but the disease is a tick-born disease and is not contagious.
The number of cases depends on the population of ticks in the area and how many of the ticks carry the bacteria. The majority of the cases in the U.S. are located in the north-eastern part of the state because 50% of the ticks contain the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease. However, Lyme disease has been reported in all 50 states and in China, Europe, Japan, Australia and parts of the former Soviet Union. Lyme disease occurs most frequently in children ages 5-14 and adults ages 40-50. Lyme disease is a rare cause of death, when acting on its own, only killing one between 1999 and 2003
Signs and Symptons
Signs of lyme disease start off with a tick bite. A couple days after the tick bite, a rash will occur creating a bulls eye like pattern. Then the rash will fade away after about 2. A few weeks after that signs could be anything from headaches, to fevers, to joint pain, or even face paralysis. After these steps only a doctor will know the signs, such as inflammation of muscles around the heart, etc.
Doctors diagnosing lyme disease look for the symptoms I have states above. However, the bulls eye rash has been known to not even occur in one of every four cases. So misdiagnosis are often in early stages. For later stages, doctors draw blood looking for antibodies to Lyme Disease. However, this too can be a false indicator due to the antibodies being in your blood even after the disease is cured.
WEAR PROPER CLOTHING! If you know your going into the woods where ticks live then make sure to wear appropriate clothing. Also, using bug spray containing DEET will help with prevention. After getting out of tick invested areas the best thing to do is immediately check for ticks so you can remove them before they attach themselves and change clothes. If a tick has attached itself do not burn it or smother it in alcohol, this will kill it but will also make it throw up while still attached releasing even more bacteria into your blood. Take tweezers and grab as close to the head as possible and pull it off your skin, place it in a bag and put it in a freezer so you can give it to the doctor if you become infected.
There are no home remedies to treat Lyme Disease. The main treatment is antibiotics. Using antibiotics when the bulls eye rash first appears is the best, and will make the rash go away within a week to two week. To reduce symptoms such as pain or swollen joints, etc. speak with your doctor, pain medicines are okay for the pain and the doctor can drain the fluid off your joints.