Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is an infectious tick-borne disease caused by the Borrelia bacteria and named after Lyme, a town in the state of Connecticut in the United States because of the cases diagnosed there in 1975. It is a rather common tick-borne disease and can be transmitted from one individual to another through the bite of an infected tick. The disease is neither gender-specific nor is it age-specific. It can also occur in animals such as mice, deer, horses, and dogs but these animals cannot directly pass on the disease to humans nor can humans directly pass it on to them. It will take a tick biting an infected animal, often an infected mouse, and then the tick biting a human to have the disease transfer.
There are quite a number of symptoms that can occur with Lyme disease and not every person who suffers from it will have the exact same symptoms as other sufferers. Also, some of the symptoms are not specifically connected to Lyme disease and can be considered as symptoms of other diseases as well. It should be noted as well that there is an asymptomatic infection that does exist but is more common in Europe than in the United States.
When early localized infection occurs, the most common symptom is the appearance of erythema chronicum migrans, also called erythema migrans or EM. Erythema chronicum migrans is a circular red rash that tends to increase in size but is quite painless. As far as the disease is concerned, the rash has a dark red, indurated center and a red outer edge but the area between these two becomes clear, thus creating the appearance of what looks like a bull’s eye. Other symptoms in early localized infection include headaches, fever, muscle aches and pains, and malaise.
Early disseminated infection occurs when the Borrelia bacteria begin to spread through a patient’s bloodstream and this happens several days or weeks after early localized infection occurs. Symptoms during this period may include heart palpitations, dizziness, borrelial lymphocytoma, neuroborreliosis, radiculoneuritis, and mild encephalitis.
If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to late persistent infection which can develop into symptoms that are severe and chronic throughout different parts of a patient’s body. These symptoms include polyneuropathy, Lyme encephalopathy, and paraplegia. Other symptoms are considered to be very rare.
The primary treatment given to patients of Lyme disease is the prescription of antibiotics in order to fight the infection. The kind of antibiotic given depends on the kind of patient: doxycycline for adults, amoxicillin for children, erythromycin for pregnant women, and ceftriaxone. The antibiotic of choice is often taken over the span of ten to twenty eight (10 to 28) days. Some doctors prefer to prescribe cefuroxime or cefotaxime. If the disease is diagnosed late and the infection has already spread, antibiotics, usually ceftriaxone, are given either orally or intravenously for at least four weeks. If neuroborreliosis occurs, minocycline is prescribed.
Prevention is key in avoiding this infectious disease.
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