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What is Lyme Disease By Ashley Collings

By at February 28, 2014 | 8:00 am | Print

Anyone who has ever gone camping or been in a wooded area knows that plants, animals, and insects can be a problem. One particular concern that people should have is the different types of ticks. One type of tick that should raise concern is the deer tick, it is named this because it feeds and mates on deer for part one or more parts of their lifestyle. They can carry a bacteria with them called borrelia burgdorferi which is what causes Lyme disease. The most common deer tick that is of concern is the nymph (a very small maturing tick) because it is very tiny and can very easily be overlooked.

In order for this tick to transmit the bacteria to a human host it must bite and embed itself in the skin for longer than a thirty six hour time. There are many preventative measures that a person can take to avoid getting ticks all together such as wearing lighter colors since they make it easier to see ticks. You should always wear long pants and in a situation when you think you may be spending a prolonged amount of time in the area where ticks may be prevalent you should make sure that those pants are tight against the ankle and your shirt is tucked in. Also you should check your pets for ticks since they could carry them in and they could fall off and attach to you. After you have been exposed to outdoor wooded areas you should always inspect yourself to make sure that there are no ticks crawling on the skin or buried in the skin. There are commonly missed places of the body that people tend to overlook which are the armpits, the groin, the bellybutton, inside the ear, and even between the fingers and toes. These places tend to be warmer for the tick or the skin is thinner and allows the tick to attach itself more easily. If you do notice a tick that has been in your skin you should see your doctor so they can give you a proper diagnosis. A doctor may take a blood sample and ask about places you may have been in recent days. It is important to be honest about where you were because ticks that carry this disease are more commonly seen in certain areas than others, such as Northeast and Midwest.

Symptoms of Lyme disease usually will not occur until about three days to even a month after you have been bitten by the infected tick. Early symptoms of Lyme disease are similar to the flu and include a rash called erythema migrans. Erythema migrans can range in size from very small to very large and can also range in shape but its origin is that of where the tick bite was.  Fatigue can happen but it is less common. Although the early symptoms may seem like nothing except the flu, Lyme disease will come and go with the same feeling of illness.

If Lyme disease is left untreated it can lead to more serious problems. Arthritis which is the swelling of the joints is one health problem that arises from untreated Lyme disease.  Neurological problems can be a result of untreated Lyme disease as well with problems ranging from simple memory loss and trouble with concentrating to more serious problems such as severe headaches, possible numbness of the limbs, and even temporary paralysis of the facial muscles.  Although the most serious health problem that can arise from untreated Lyme disease is heart problems it only occurs in very few people. When Lyme disease is treated in early stages it can be very easily treated with antibiotics.

Lyme disease cannot be transmitted from bodily fluids from human to human. If a pregnant woman contracts Lyme disease it could possibly lead to an infection of the placenta (which is what allows the baby to gather nutrients) causing a stillbirth only if the mother does not receive a treatment of antibiotics. It is advised that if you have been diagnosed with Lyme disease that you do not donate blood since there is no solid evidence if it can be transferred through blood. There are many varieties of ticks that do not transmit Lyme disease and it is important to remember that not all of them will carry the disease. Some of the tick species that do not carry the bacteria are lone star ticks, the American dog ticks, the rocky mountain wood tick, and the most common brown tick.

 

References:

http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/transmission/

http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/lymedisease/understanding/pages/intro.aspx

http://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/arthritis-lyme-disease

 

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