Lyme Disease

Definition

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection. The infection is spread from the bite of an infected deer tick.

Causes

Lyme disease is caused by bacteria found in some deer ticks. An infected tick passes Lyme disease to humans through its bite.If untreated, the bacteria can pass into the blood. The blood will carry it through the body. The bacteria may then settle in various body tissues.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your risk of Lyme disease include:
  • Living in the northeastern, northwestern, mid-Atlantic, or upper north-central regions of the United States and northwestern California
  • Outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, and gardening in areas/seasons with deer ticks
  • Living near or going to wooded, grassy areas
  • Working outdoors such as surveying, landscaping, forestry, gardening, and utility company service work

Symptoms

The symptoms of Lyme disease will be different in each person. They can also range from mild to severe.The first sign may be a red rash. The rash starts as a small red spot at the site of the tick bite. It will then spread over the next few days or weeks to form a circular or oval-shaped rash. Sometimes, the rash resembles a bull's eye with a red ring around a clear area with a red center. The rash may cover a small dime-sized area or a wide area of the body.
Lyme Disease Rash
IMAGE
This is an example of a Lyme disease rash shaped like a bull's eye. It may not always be this shape, nor will a rash always appear.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Early Infection

In the first 3-30 days after the bite, if the infection has not spread you may notice:
  • Rash
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen glands
These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have Lyme disease, even if you have spent time outdoors. See your doctor right away if you have these symptoms and think you have been exposed to a tick.

Early Disseminated Infection

An infection that has begun to spread may cause the following symptoms in days to weeks after the bite:
  • Multiple lesions
  • Persistent headache, stiff neck
  • Diffuse numbness, tingling, burning
  • Intermittent joint pain and swelling
  • Impaired motor coordination
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Muscle pain and swelling
  • Facial paralysis ( Bells palsy )

Late Infection

Symptoms can develop months or years after the tick bite in untreated infections. These symptoms may occur regularly or intermittently and include:
  • Painful inflammation of the joints ( arthritis )
  • Trouble with concentration or memory
  • Shooting pains, numbness, and tingling
Less common symptoms of late Lyme disease include:
  • Heart abnormalities
  • Eye problems, such as conjunctivitis
  • Chronic skin disorders
  • Limb weakness
  • Persistent motor coordination problems

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