Lyme disease also referred as Lyme borreliosis is an infectious disease transmitted by ticks, which carry four particular causative species of the bacterium Borrelia, namely Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia mayonii (in the western nations) Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii (in European and Asian countries).
Ticks carrying these harmful microbes tend to thrive in open, woody areas. Lyme disease can hence affect both children and adults, if they have been outdoors in the nearby playgrounds or parks, on a trek, or vacationing in a forested region.
This is because in such scenarios, ticks carrying the Borrelia bacteria can easily attach onto people’s bodies, clothes and jackets. Redness does not appear on the site of the tick bite immediately, but only after one week along with rashes in a typical bull’s eye pattern.
Risk factors of this bacterial ailment consist of long-term exposure to the outdoors in grassy, hilly areas for both children and adults, as well as exposing skin while going on hikes and not tweezing out the tick completely if spotted on the body or clothing.
Therefore, some recommended preventative measures to avoid contracting Lyme disease include wearing fully covered clothing and footwear, in addition to applying insect repellants, while heading out in your backyard or in to the wilderness.
If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to harsh consequences such as irregular heartbeat and impaired memory. Hence, it is generally advised to seek immediate medical attention when affected by tick bites.
Initially a tiny red swelling occurs at the site of Borrelia infection in instances of Lyme disease. Once the bacterial inflammation begins to spread in the affected person, the following signs and symptoms develop in stages, over a period of a few months:
A characteristic circular rash first appears on the skin, with a clear pattern in the center and increasing intensity of redness towards the outer portions.
The initial rashes are accompanied by fevers, body pain and headaches.
This refers to the condition where the bull’s eye-shaped rashes begin to spread and occur in many other parts of the body.
Stiffness of neck and shoulder joints is commonly experienced along with severe discomfort in knees and legs.
Months of undiagnosed or improperly treated Lyme disease can ultimately result in inflamed brain tissue termed as meningitis, or even Bell’s palsy, which is paralysis along the nerves of facial muscles.
Diagnosis And Treatment:
As tick bites transmit other bacterial infections as well, it is often difficult to diagnose Lyme disease in the patient merely by taking a glance at the rashes on the body.
The doctor would therefore also assess the patient’s medical history, perform a complete physical exam and survey if they have been traveling often, in outdoor regions.
This is followed by laboratory tests, which detect if proteins found in the Borrelia bacteria are present in the blood sample of the patient. Common protocols for this include the ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) and western blotting.
Once Lyme disease is confirmed in the individual, the healthcare provider prescribes a scheduled dose of antibiotics for a few weeks, to take orally. He or she also administers the antibiotics via injections, to completely eliminate the disease-causing microbes from the patient’s system.