Ticks are tiny insects that can sometimes carry diseases and infections. Lyme disease is one of the most common diseases transmitted through tick bites. If you spend a lot of time outside, especially in places with tall grass, it is important to thoroughly check for ticks on your clothing, skin, and any other belongings you had on you. For information on preventing tick bites, check out the CDC website.
On top of learning the best ways to prevent and check for tick bites, it is also important to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of Lyme disease. The earlier treatment for Lyme disease begins, the easier it will be to lower the duration and avoid any further complications that can arise if the disease is untreated.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is spread by a tick bite. The bacteria that causes the disease are Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii and the specific breed of tick that spreads the disease is the black legged tick, most commonly referred to as a deer tick.
In order for the disease to be transmitted, a tick must generally be attached for 36 hours or more. Only a small percentage of deer ticks actually carry the disease, but it is still important to check yourself and take measures to avoid being bitten.
Lyme Disease Symptoms
There are a few key symptoms you may experience if you have contracted Lyme disease from a tick bite. If you are experiencing any of the following issues, visit a medical professional as soon as possible.
- Rash – One of the most obvious signs of Lyme disease is a red rash that expands with a bulls-eye at the center. It primarily appears where the bite occurred but can appear at more than one place on the body. Unlike most rashes, it will not be itchy or painful. Not all Lyme disease cases will necessarily result in this rash
- Flu-like symptoms – Fever, chills, aches, fatigue, headache, etc.
If untreated, more symptoms may arise over weeks or months such as:
- Expanding rash – The rash may expand to other parts of the body.
- Joint pain – Pain and swelling might occur.
- Neurological issues – This is one of the main reasons you should start treating Lyme disease as soon as possible. If untreated the infection can lead to meningitis, Bell’s palsy, and numbness in the limbs.
Diagnosing & Treating Lyme Disease
There are several laboratory tests that can help to identify and confirm a Lyme disease diagnosis. The tests look for antibodies that fight the bacteria that spread Lyme disease. Because Lyme disease is caused by bacteria, it is treated with antibiotics.