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Lyme Disease


Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.

Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks; laboratory testing is helpful in the later stages of disease.

Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, landscaping, and integrated pest management. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tick-borne diseases as well.

Symptoms

Lyme disease has many symptoms, but skin symptoms, arthritis and various neurological symptoms are usually present. Conventional therapy is with antibiotics.

Acute (early) symptoms

  • "bull's-eye" rash (erythema migrans) - a circle or ring of inflamed skin surrounding the initial tick bite) or papular (raised) rash
  • fever
  • malaise
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • muscle and joint aches in large joints
  • sore throat
  • sinus infection
  • paralysis - usually associated with Lyme meningitis or Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

The incubation period from infection to the onset of symptoms is usually 1–2 weeks, but can be much shorter (a couple of days), or even as long as one month. However, it is possible for an infected person to display no symptoms, or display only one or two symptoms, which can make diagnosis difficult.

  • Chronic (late) symptoms
  • meningitis
  • neuropathy - numbness, tingling, burning, itching, oversensitivity muscle and joint aches
  • tremor, twitches
  • Bell's palsy
  • pain
  • immune suppression
  • myalgia
  • fatigue
  • hallucinations
  • short-term memory loss

The late symptoms of Lyme disease can appear months to years from infection. Left untreated, Lyme disease can cause chronic disability, but is rarely fatal. Fatality can occur when the spirochete enters brain fluids and causes meningitis, or due to conductivity defects in the heart. Chronic cases have been known to linger for years before a definitive diagnosis.

Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and many other autoimmune and neurological diseases, which leaves the infection untreated and allows it to further penetrate the organism. If the neurologic form of borreliosis is left untreated for years, it may lead to severe debility of the patient. Spirochetes have been noted in deaths in observed autopsy reports

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