Facts about Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases

Tick-borne diseases including Lyme can attack virtually any system in the body.

The “bulls eye”-like rash in this picture is the typical symptom of a tick bite that produces lyme disease. (Source: healthalternativesonline.com)

Some of the first symptoms may include a flu-like condition, with fever, chills, headache, stiff neck, achiness, and fatigue. Other symptoms can include pain in various joints and muscles, neurological problems, heart involvement, problems with vision or hearing, migraines, low-grade fever, or other symptoms.

Lyme disease is often mistaken for other illnesses since the symptoms often mirror other medical problems, such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, and Alzheimer’s disease. In some cases, Lyme disease patients can become paralyzed and/or comatose.

Lyme and other tick-borne disease symptoms may come and go and be replaced by new symptoms. Symptoms may be subtle or pronounced.

Approximately 60 percent of patients with untreated infection may begin to have intermittent bouts of arthritis, with severe joint pain and swelling. Large joints are most often affected, particularly the knees.

Approximately 10-20 percent of patients with Lyme disease have symptoms that last months to years after treatment with antibiotics. These symptoms can include muscle and joint pains, cognitive defects, sleep disturbance, or fatigue. The cause of these symptoms is not known.

Lyme disease is an infection that is transmitted through the bite of a deer or blacklegged tick infected with a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. Ticks typically get the bacterium by biting infected animals, like deer and mice. (Source: erwinadr.blogspot.ca)

Your risk of acquiring a tick-borne illness depends on many factors, including where you live, what type of tick bit you, and how long the tick was attached. If you become ill after a tick bite, see your doctor.

Basic information about Lyme and tick-borne diseases (TBDs):

Lyme and tick-borne diseases are prevalent across all states and most Canadian provinces. Ticks do not know geographic boundaries. A person’s county of residence does not accurately reflect their total TBD risk, since people travel, pets travel, and ticks travel. This creates a dynamic situation with many opportunities for exposure for every individual.

Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis because there is no definitive diagnostic test yet. Spirochetal infection of multiple organ systems causes a wide range of symptoms. Familiarity with its varied presentations is essential to recognizing disseminated Lyme disease. The medical practitioner should be experienced to make a proper clinical diagnosis.

Fewer than half of patients with Lyme disease recall a tick bite. In some studies this number is as low as 15 percent. So if you never saw a tick on your body, it doesn’t mean you are TBD-free.

Fewer than half of patients with Lyme disease recall any rash. Although the “bulls eye” red rash is considered the classic sign to look for, it is not even the most common dermatologic manifestation of early Lyme infection. Atypical forms of this rash are seen far more commonly. It is important to know that the Erythema Migrans rash is a clear, unequivocal sign of Lyme disease and requires no further verification prior to starting six weeks of antibiotic therapy. Shorter treatment courses have resulted in upwards of a 40 percent relapse rate.

There has never in the history of this illness been one study that proves even in the simplest way 30 days of antibiotic treatment cures Lyme or tick-borne diseases. However, there is a plethora of documentation in medical literature demonstrating that short courses of antibiotic treatment fail to eradicate the Lyme spirochete and other tick-borne bacteria.

This billboard was errected on the outskirts of Blenheim, Ontario by Chatham-Kent Public Health. Reduce the risk, target ticks! (Source: lyme-disease.halifaxhrm.com)

There is no test currently available to determine whether the bacteria organism is eradicated or the patient is cured.

There are five subspecies of Borrelia burgdorferi, over 100 strains in the U.S. This diversity is thought to contribute to Borrelia burgdorferi’s various antibiotic resistances.

Lyme is the number one tick-borne illness in the U.S. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports there are 24,000 new cases of Lyme disease in the U.S. each year, but the CDC also states that past figures may have been underreported by tenfold. International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) believes newly diagnosed cases of Lyme may occur at a rate five times higher than the number of new AIDS cases.

Be TickSmart™ Stay TickSafe!

Note: This is Part 3 of a 3-part series about Lyme and tick-borne diseases

Part 1: Tick-Borne Diseases Are No Walk in the Park

Part 2: Top 10 Tick Prevention Tips

Worth Pondering…

We, the artists, make the stuff they sell and they’re like ticks on our backs, sucking the life out of us.
—Malcolm Wilson

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