Are you at Risk of Tick Bites and Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease can be a dangerous bacterial infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, most commonly transmitted through tick bites. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases as well. They are responsible for at least ten different known diseases in the U.S., including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, and more recently, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis.
Blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, transmit the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi to humans through the bite. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
Lyme disease affects people of all ages, but is most common in children, older adults and others such as firefighters and park rangers who spend time in outdoor activities and have higher exposure to ticks.
Ticks are parasites that feed by latching onto an animal host, imbedding their mouthparts into the host’s skin and sucking its blood. Once a tick has attached, if undisturbed it may feed for several days. The longer it stays attached, the more likely it will transmit Lyme and other pathogens into your bloodstream.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
Tick bites are painless and unnoticeable. The first signs of infection are generalized fever-like symptoms such as chills and aches. Lyme disease is a multisystem inflammatory disease, which will then spread to joints, nervous system and other organ systems.
Additionally, an Erythema migrans rash may present with its characteristic “bull’s eye” pattern, which is a red dot with a red circle surrounding it. It occurs in 70 to 80 percent of infected patients and begins at the bite after 7 days on average. The rash then expands gradually over a period of days reaching up to 12 inches or more (30 cm) across. It can appear anywhere on the skin and may feel warm to touch. The rash is rarely itchy or painful. Similar rashes will continue to appear in other parts of the body if left untreated.
LymeDisease.org. About Lyme Disease. Available at: https://www.lymedisease.org/lyme-basics/lyme-disease/about-lyme/
Dogs and ticks. Which diseases have been confirmed in your neighborhood? (Interactive Map) Available at: http://www.dogsandticks.com/diseases_in_your_area.php
American Lyme Disease Foundation, Inc. What is Lyme Disease? Available at: http://www.aldf.com/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Signs and Symptoms of Untreated Lyme Disease. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/signs_symptoms/index.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tick removal and testing. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/removal/index.html
You’re Probably Going to Get a Tick This Summer. Good Luck. http://vitals.lifehacker.com/youre-probably-going-to-get-a-tick-this-summer-good-lu-1793895235
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Specialist doctor from the University Hospital in Gothenburg, alumnus UC Berkeley. My doctoral dissertation is about Digital Health and I have published 5 scientific articles in teledermatology and artificial intelligence.