Lyme Disease: What You Need to Know

Lyme disease is an infectious disease transmitted through the bite of infected black-legged ticks to humans. A small red bump appears where the bit occurred. This is followed within a month by certain symptoms that indicate Lyme disease.

What are the symptoms?original

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Skin rash (this rash is characteristic of Lyme disease and is called erythema migrans)

Lyme disease is diagnosed based on the symptoms you present, a physical inspection by the doctor (i.e. to check for a rash), and the possibility of being exposed to ticks. Laboratory testing can also be helpful.

Lyme disease can be treated successfully in most cases using antibiotics for a few weeks. If left untreated, however, the infection can spread to your joints, nervous system, and heart.

Preventing Lyme Disease

  • Use insect repellent
  • Apply pesticides
  • Reduce tick habitat
  • Remove ticks promptly

How to Remove a Tick

If you find a tick on you – don’t panic. It is fairly simple to remove using standard fine-tipped tweezers.

  • Using the tweezers grab the tick as close to your skin surface as possible
  • Pull upwards using even steady pressure
  • Don’t twist or jerk the tick as this could cause the mouth to break off and stay in the skin
  • Once you have the tick out, clean your area (and your hands) thoroughly with soap and water or rubbing alcohol
  • Place the tick in a sealed bag or flush it down the toilet.
  • Don’t ever crush a tick with your fingers.

Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome

For some people, once they have finished the two- to four-week course of antibiotics, still experience the symptoms of Lyne disease such as fatigue, joint and muscle aches, and pain. For some, the symptoms can go on for six months.

The cause of this is not yet known. It is thought that it could be residual damage to tissues and the immune system. Patients do always get better with time, although it can take a long time.