Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lyme disease - Symptoms,Treatment and Prevention

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Lyme disease is an inflammatory disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi) bacteria. These bacteria are carried by certain ticks. When these ticks bites infected mice or deer, the bacteria enters the ticks and transmitted to human being when they bite a human.

It is called Lyme disease because it was first reported in United States in the town of Old Lyme, Connecticut, in 1975. It is reported mostly in United States. Incidence is higher during late spring, summer and early fall.



Stages

Stage 1-also called as primary Lyme disease
Stage 2 - early disseminated Lyme disease.
Stage 3 - chronic persistent Lyme disease.

Risk Factors

Activities with increased risk of exposure to ticks
Presence of a pet at home that carry ticks.

Symptoms

To be infected, the ticks must be on our body for up to 48 hours and if present more up to this time, the bacteria enters in to our body. The primary Lyme disease is characterized by flu-like symptoms.
• Itching
• General weakness
• Head ache and fainting
• Increased body temperature
• Muscle pain
• Stiff neck

As the infection advances there may be a ‘bulls eye’ rash on the site of tick bite and will be 1 – 3 inch wide. If untreated Lyme disease advances in to chronic persistent Lyme disease. It may affect brain, heart and joints.

Symptoms during this stage include –
• Abnormal muscle movements and weakness
• Joint pain and swelling
• Numbness and tingling
• Unusual behaviour
• Speech disturbances

Diagnosis

A blood test may reveal the presence of antibodies formed against the bacteria. Elisa test for Lyme disease is done to confirm the antibodies and Western Blot test is carried out to confirm the Elisa test.
In late stage Lyme disease, additional tests are carried out to find the condition of heart and brain.
 ECG
 Echo cardiogram
 Lumbar puncture
 MRI scan

Treatment

If a person is suspected to have an insect bite with a tick that carries the bacteria is identified and the bacteria was present on the body for more than 36 hours, then the person has to start a prophylactic antibiotic provided the patient is over 8 years old and is not pregnant or breast feeding.
If the patient is already infected with Lyme disease, a full course of antibiotic is necessary. If the patient is not treated at an early stage, this can lead to a chronic Lyme disease.

Prognosis

If treated early, Lyme disease subsides without any complications. Very rarely, it may lead to chronic persistent symptoms even with adequate treatment.
If the patient is not treated, Lyme disease advances into a chronic late stage Lyme disease affecting heart, brain and joint leading to a life threatening condition.

Complications

If the Lyme disease is not treated adequately, it will lead to late stage Lyme disease with the following permanent disabilities.
• Decreased concentration
• Memory disorders
• Nerve damage
• Numbness
• Pain
• Facial muscle paralysis
• Sleep disorders
• Vision problems

Prevention

When you are at risk of exposure to ticks, wear full sleeve shirt and rubber boots to prevent insect bites.


If an insect bite occurred, spray an insect repellent over the site of bite and also on clothes. Do not spray on face or over an open wound and spray only in outdoors.
Wear light coloured dress on areas where there is a risk of insect bite. This will help to identify the ticks easily.

Seek medical help if you-

Have a Bull’s eye-like rash on the skin or after a tick bite if you develop numbness, weakness, or tingling, or heart problems or any Symptoms of Lyme disease, especially if you may have been exposed to ticks.


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