What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease (Lyme borreliosis) is an infectious disease caused by a bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi, a spirochete cock-screw bacterium. The main vector for Lyme disease is lxodes tick also known as black-legged ticks (as it is popularly called in the west coast).
Lyme disease is very infectious, and one of the commonest signs of Lyme disease is Erythema migrans a condition characterized by an ever expanding area of redness under the skin which begins to develop about a week after a tick bite.
The infection spreads through the blood stream to the joint, visceral organs and the skin sites.
Lyme disease affects children the most, it also affect other age groups.
Ticks can be found in the crevices around by beddings. Ticks are present in every continent except the Antarctica probably due the extreme cold temperatures.
According to a study, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in the US, and 65,000 people a year in Europe.
Lyme disease symptoms in women especially pregnant women is still birth as they can easily pass the infection to the unborn child.
One of the symptoms of Lyme disease is rash and this becomes extensive as the infection spread.
Rash forms in almost about 70-80% of all those affected by Lyme disease.
Lyme disease rash mostly presents as a bull’s eye type as it spreads in a circular form with darker ring with a lighter inflamed part at the center.
So also Lyme disease can affects almost any part of the body – the brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, the heart.
Early symptoms of Lyme disease
Lyme disease may present symptoms from multiple organs in the body at once. Here are some of the early Lyme disease symptoms which includes fever and headache, feeling distressed or fatigue.
If these early symptoms are not treated urgently, Lyme disease may degenerate further, thus expressing the following symptoms:
- Pain at the joints.
- Headache accompanied with neck stiffness (this is common to meningitis).
Advance symptoms of Lyme disease includes: facial paralysis (loss of ability to move one side of the face also known as bell’s palsy). This often presents when Lyme disease has affected the nervous system.
- heart palpitations.
When the infections is misdiagnosed or wrong treatment administered, it may develop into other stages that could immobilize a patient, other Lyme disease symptoms that present at this stage are the following:
- shooting pain/tingling in the legs.
- Memory loss and short term memory problems.
- Extreme fatigue over a long haul.
- Poor mental coordination.
- Muscle weakness.
- Painful and swollen joint, this may lead to arthritis in the near future.
Lyme disease often present symptoms that mimic other disease thus the need to ascertain with your doctor of you are infected to avoid wrong diagnosis.
- Impaired muscle movement.
Inflammation of the heart is rare but it may also be expressed as a symptom.
In children the following Lyme disease symptoms are noticeable such as:
- Chronic encephality. This is characterized by fluid retention in the brain and surrounding coverings.
- weakness in the legs, awkward gait, and bladder problems.
- Eye inflammation.
Lyme disease may not be easy to detect because it presents symptoms that look like other serious conditions such as neurological dysfunction or degenerative diseases, fibriomyalgia. multiple sclerosis, lupus, anaphylaxis, chronic fatigue syndrome.
The best diagnostic means of establishing Lyme infection is via serological studies and measurement of levels of immunoglobulin and antibodies in the blood.
The mostly widely use serological tests are ELISA and western blot test.
If you have been bitten by a tick within the last 24 hours. it’s good to report to your doctor as early as possible to prevent complications as the infection may spread after the next 12hours. Antibiotics such as doxycycline may be used to neutralize the infection at this early stage.