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Lyme Disease


Description

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks.

Typical symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic bullÕs eye skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.

Later symptoms include loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face (called facial or ÒBellÕs palsy), severe headaches and neck stiffness due to meningitis, shooting pains that may interfere with sleep, heart palpitations and dizziness due to changes in heartbeat, and pain that moves from joint to joint. Many of these symptoms will resolve, even without treatment.

After several months, approximately 60% of patients with untreated infection will begin to have intermittent bouts of arthritis, with severe joint pain and swelling. Large joints are most often effected, particularly the knees. In addition, up to 5% of untreated patients may develop chronic neurological complaints months to years after infection. These include shooting pains, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, and problems with concentration and short term memory.

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.

Causes

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks.

In the northeastern and north-central United States, the blacklegged tick (or deer tick, Ixodes scapularis) transmits Lyme disease. In the Pacific coastal United States, the disease is spread by the western blacklegged tick (Ixodes pacificus). The Lyme disease bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, normally lives in mice, squirrels and other small animals.



Conventional Labs

CDC recommends a two-step process when testing blood for evidence of Lyme disease.

1) An ELISA or IFA test.

2) A Western blot is used to confirm the diagnosis.

 

 

 

 

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