- Ten Facts About Lyme Disease
- 15 Useful Facts About Lyme Disease
- 1. LYME DISEASE IS CAUSED BY COILED BACTERIA.
- 2. TICKS PREFER A LONG MEAL.
- 3. THEY ARE A VIRULENT DISEASE VECTOR …
- 4. … WHICH LEADS TO INFLAMMATION.
- 5. INFECTIONS MAY BEGIN WITH A BULL’S-EYE.
- 6. DON’T WAIT TO GET TREATMENT.
- 7. IF CAUGHT EARLY, IT’S USUALLY HIGHLY TREATABLE …
- 8. … BUT SOME PATIENTS EXPERIENCE SYMPTOMS FOR MUCH LONGER.
- 9. YOUR GENETICS MAY DICTATE YOUR TREATMENT.
- 10. FEAR THE ENGORGED TICK (BUT DON’T PANIC).
- 11. AREAS WITH MICE HAVE MORE LYME DISEASE.
- 12. YOU CAN TAKE SIMPLE STEPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF.
- 13. CHECK YOUR CREVICES.
- 14. SKIP SOME OF THOSE “TIPS” FOR REMOVING TICKS THAT YOU’VE HEARD ABOUT.
- 15. INSTEAD, USE SLOW, STEADY PRESSURE—AND SOME TWEEZERS.
- 6 Things You Need to Know About Lyme Disease
- What to know about Lyme disease
Ten Facts About Lyme Disease
- Lyme disease is a world-wide infectious disease and has been reported in all 50 states, 25% of the reported cases are children. Lyme disease has been found on every continent but Antarctica.
- Typically Lyme disease is transmitted through a bite from an infected tick. These ticks, often the size of a poppy seed, can leave an undetectable bite.
- Fewer than 50% of people infected get the bull’s eye rash. Some develop flu-like symptoms a week or so after becoming infected, however, many people are asymptomatic but can develop Lyme symptoms months, years or decades later.
- Common Symptoms include: fatigue, neck stiffness or pain, jaw discomfort, muscle pain, joint aches like arthritis- typically in the knees, swollen glands, memory loss, cognitive confusion, vision problems, digestive issues, headaches and fainting.
- The Lyme spirochete bacteria is hard to detect and hard to kill. Lyme disease is growing at epidemic proportions in the United States.
- It is called the great imitator; looking like many other health problems (Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Bells Palsy, ADD, MS and Lupus).
- The medical community is divided over the diagnosis and treatment guidelines. Health insurance often doesn’t cover the treatment for Chronic Lyme disease.
- The standard and most commonly prescribed for diagnosing Lyme test is the ELISA test. This test, often not sensitive enough to detect Lyme, can produce a false negative. The more sensitive test is called the IgG and IgM Western Blots test. The preferred testing lab is IGeneX Lab in Palo Alto. www.igenex.com.
- If you suspect you have Lyme, contact a LLMD, (Lyme Literate Medical Doctor). Informative websites on the disease: www.ilads.org, www.lymedisease.org, www.lymediseaseassociation.org, www.igenex.com.
- A recommended book to read: Cure Unknown by Pamela Weintraub and a recommended DVD is Under Our Skin.
15 Useful Facts About Lyme Disease
As summer nears and you spend more time outdoors in one of the many beautiful natural spots in the United States, be sure to dress for the season—tick season, that is. Some experts say 2017 may be an especially tick-infested year. Deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis) carry a bacteria that causes Lyme disease, an infection from a bacterium that coils waiting in their insect bodies. Lyme-carrying deer ticks are especially prevalent in the upper East Coast, the upper Midwest, northern California, and the Oregon coast. While not every tick carries the bacteria that lead to infection—and some carry other pathogens—it’s best to take precautions to prevent bites, and seek medical attention if you have been bitten. The infection can cause long-lasting damage if not treated early. Here are 15 facts you need to know about Lyme disease.
1. LYME DISEASE IS CAUSED BY COILED BACTERIA.
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, a spirochete, or tightly coiled bacterium that looks like a tiny spring under a microscope. Spirochetes are very simple, slow-replicating bacteria that require a mammalian or avian host to survive. According to Timothy Sellati, chair of the infectious diseases department at Southern Research, a nonprofit research institution in Birmingham, Alabama, “It takes on the order of 18–20 hours for a single spirochete to divide into two.” That’s incredibly slow, compared to other bacteria like E. coli, which can replicate every 20 minutes. Because Borrelia replicates so slowly, and they don’t reach high numbers, “They do not show up easily in a blood test,” Sellati says.
2. TICKS PREFER A LONG MEAL.
Sellati explains that ticks are very different feeders from mosquitoes, which he calls “hit-and-run feeders.” Ticks will feed over a period of three to five days before they become fully engorged. Female ticks generally only take three “blood meals,” he says, in the duration of their lifespan. They take one blood meal after hatching from their egg into the larval stage, another after they molt into their nymphal stage—the stage where they are most likely to bite you—and a final “big meal” in preparation for laying thousands of eggs. Adult male ticks generally don’t feed, he says.
3. THEY ARE A VIRULENT DISEASE VECTOR …
When an infected tick bites a human, the waiting spirochetes—which live essentially dormant in the tick’s gut until environmental cues such as changes in temperature and oxygen availability awaken them—travel from the tick’s gut to its saliva glands. “From the saliva glands they can literally be spat into the bloodstream that the tick is feeding on,” Sellati says. Once they enter the bloodstream, spirochetes travel to various body tissues, because if they stay too long in the bloodstream, they’ll get killed by their host’s immune system. “Once it gets away from site of inoculation, it shows a bias toward joints, heart, central nervous system,” Sellati says.
4. … WHICH LEADS TO INFLAMMATION.
“The bacteria has components that are very effective at eliciting an inflammatory response,” Sellati explains. While Borrelia don’t produce toxins like other bacteria, they do incite inflammation in sensitive parts of the body such as the joints, heart, and brain. “That inflammatory response is important to help kill and clear the spirochetes, but it causes collateral damage as well.”
5. INFECTIONS MAY BEGIN WITH A BULL’S-EYE.
The first symptom to look for in about 80 to 90 percent of Lyme cases is a telltale rash of an infected tick bite, called an erythema migrans (EM) rash, which looks a lot like a red bull’s-eye, and usually appears at the site of a tick bite within seven to 14 days, according to the American Lyme Disease Foundation. However, the rash does not appear in every instance of Lyme disease, so if you’re bitten, you should visit a doctor immediately. You may also experience flu-like symptoms or joint pains in the first month after the bite.
6. DON’T WAIT TO GET TREATMENT.
If you don’t see the tick bite, and don’t treat early symptoms, the spirochetes continue to spread throughout your body and can cause more severe symptoms, including fatigue, stiff or aching neck, tingling or numbness in your extremities, and even paralysis of your face. Even more debilitating symptoms of later-stage Lyme disease can include severe headaches, painful arthritis and swelling of joints, cardiac abnormalities, and central nervous system debilitations leading to cognitive disorders.
7. IF CAUGHT EARLY, IT’S USUALLY HIGHLY TREATABLE …
When the disease is caught in its early stages, and treated with antibiotics, it’s curable, Sellati says. Even later stages of the disease can be treated, but the longer an infection goes untreated, the more severe the symptoms and damage can become.
8. … BUT SOME PATIENTS EXPERIENCE SYMPTOMS FOR MUCH LONGER.
Scientists are not entirely sure why a subset of patients have recurrent symptoms of the illness in the months and even years following treatment, known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome. “It’s not clear if there is a persistence of live replicating bacteria in some immune privileged niche where they’re protected from exposure to antibiotics,” Sellati says, or if it’s simply the subsequent inflammation stirred up in the body that refuses to go back to normal. “What drives that is not entirely clear.”
9. YOUR GENETICS MAY DICTATE YOUR TREATMENT.
Sellati’s lab has been exploring whether genetics plays a role in who recovers after treatment and who doesn’t. “We have some evidence that your genetic makeup can actually predispose you to developing post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome,” Sellati says, and adds it will require more research. They believe they might be able to isolate genetic markers that will tell doctors if antibiotics alone will work, or if the patient might need additional treatment.
10. FEAR THE ENGORGED TICK (BUT DON’T PANIC).
The good news is, even if a tick bites you, if it isn’t yet fully engorged on your blood, chances are good it hasn’t been there long enough to transmit the spirochetes that lead to infection. However, it’s always better to be safe, and pay attention to any symptoms that occur thereafter. “The sooner you can remove a tick from your body, whether it’s feeding or not, the better. If the tick is feeding for less than 24 hours, the likelihood of being infected with Borellia is significantly reduced,” Sellati says.
11. AREAS WITH MICE HAVE MORE LYME DISEASE.
Wherever you find mice and deer you’re very likely to find ticks as well. In fact, Sellati says, mice in all forms—but especially the white-footed mouse—are what infectious researchers call a “maintenance reservoir.” Sellati says. “They maintain the bacteria in the wild so that new ticks can acquire it.” Since spirochetes tend to stay in the bloodstream of mice much longer than they do in humans, that’s how ticks have such an endless supply of the bacteria. “If you got rid of all the mice in the world, you would either come very close to or significantly reduce the population of Borellia in the environment. You’d have a significant decrease in Lyme,” he emphasizes.
12. YOU CAN TAKE SIMPLE STEPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF.
Wear clothes with the most coverage possible. Spray yourself with anti-tick sprays. But no matter what, always do a tick check after you return from the outdoors just to be safe. And if you start to feel any of the symptoms mentioned earlier within a month of a tick bite, don’t wait to visit your doctor.
13. CHECK YOUR CREVICES.
Ticks are not opposed to biting you wherever they can reach, but they have a preference for your warm, moist crevices, such as armpits, backs of the knee, groin, base of the head, and nape of your neck.
14. SKIP SOME OF THOSE “TIPS” FOR REMOVING TICKS THAT YOU’VE HEARD ABOUT.
No matter how many YouTube tutorials you’ve watched, Sellati recommends that you do not use heat, like a match or a lighter, to burn a tick off. The same goes for “goops” such as petroleum jelly, alcohol, or hand sanitizer. Since the spirochetes are transmitted through tick saliva, Sellati warns, “If you try to do those things, you’re only going to piss the tick off, and a pissed-off tick spits a lot, and you’re more likely to get more bacteria into your bloodstream.”
15. INSTEAD, USE SLOW, STEADY PRESSURE—AND SOME TWEEZERS.
Take a small pair of forceps or tweezers, Sellati instructs, and gently grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible, “then pull the tick straight up slowly, which pulls the mouth part out of the skin, and then just dab the area with alcohol to disinfect.” A tick’s mouthparts are like tiny barbed hooks, designed to pierce the skin and stay there. “Then they have secretions that cement the mouthparts to the skin, because they have to feed over a long time and they don’t want to be knocked off while they sit and sip.”
6 Things You Need to Know About Lyme Disease
You may think Lyme disease is old news, but were you aware that it’s increasingly recognized as a major public health problem? Each year approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the CDC, triple the amount in 1992. The increase is likely due to thriving tick populations (encouraged by changing climate patterns and booming numbers of tick carriers like mice and deer), as well as to a growing awareness of tick-borne diseases. But if every case were diagnosed and reported, the number would be much higher—possibly as high as 300,000 a year, according to two CDC studies.
The reassuring news is that you can take steps to protect yourself and your family from Lyme. Start by getting the facts.
1. Lyme-spreading ticks aren’t just in New England.
Lyme cases are concentrated in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, with 14 states accounting for more than 96 percent of reported cases. However, black-legged ticks, which host the bacteria that cause Lyme, appear to be on the move. One study shows the black-legged tick in 45.7 percent of counties in the contiguous U.S. (up from 30 percent in 1996). Combine its range with that of the western black-legged tick and 43 states are on the Lyme map.
2. Staying out of the woods won’t keep you in the clear.
Ticks are commonly found in backyards, which means you could be at risk even while gardening, barbecuing, or playing with the kids outside. It helps to keep grass short and to clear tall brush. And if you do live near woods, create a three-foot-wide tick barrier around your lawn with wood chips or gravel.
3. A bull’s eye rash isn’t the only way to tell you have Lyme disease.
Dartboard circles affect 70 to 80 percent of those who’ve been bitten by an infected tick. But plenty of people develop the disease without ever spotting a rash. That’s why you should know the signs of Lyme: flulike symptoms including fever, chills, headache, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle and joint aches. If untreated, the bacteria can cause neurological issues resulting in neck stiffness, facial palsy, an irregular heartbeat, shooting pains, and numbness, as well as problems with speech and short-term memory. A doctor can do a test called the ELISA, which detects antibodies against the bacteria, and can confirm a diagnosis with a Western blot test.
4. The sooner you react to a tick, the better.
If you’re bitten by a black-legged tick that carries Lyme, it usually takes from 36 to 48 hours for the bacteria to be transferred to your bloodstream. “The faster you get ticks off you, the better your chance of not contracting Lyme,” explains Heather Hearst, founder of Project Lyme, an organization that raises awareness about Lyme prevention and early diagnosis. Make tick checks part of your post-outdoor routine (see tips below).
5. There’s only one good way to remove a tick from your skin.
Always use a pair of fine-tip tweezers to grasp the tick close to your skin. Then pull straight up with gentle, steady pressure. Don’t crush the offending arachnid—flush it down the toilet. Pull out any remaining pieces, then clean the area as well as your hands with rubbing alcohol.
SPOT THAT TICK
After spending time outdoors, scan your body for poppy- to sesame-seed-size specks. Then closely examine your head and hair, in and around your ears, under your arms, inside your belly button, behind your knees, between your legs, and around your waist. Take a shower; doing so within two hours can wash away ticks before they can transmit Lyme-causing bacteria.
For more info on Lyme disease, visit ProjectLyme.org.
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With summer in full swing, we will be spending more time participating in activities outdoors in areas such as parks, forests and hiking trails. While getting out and keeping physically fit is strongly encouraged it is important to keep in mind that being in these areas can put you at risk for Lyme disease.
Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center offers the following information on Lyme disease, how it is spread, its symptoms, and treatment.
Lyme disease is the most common tick-born infection in New York City and in the United States. On the east coast, Lyme disease is spread by the bite of a black-legged tick infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Not all black-legged ticks carry this bacterium and, even if they are infected, they must be attached for at least 36 – 48 hours after a person is bitten to transmit the disease.
Black-legged ticks are rarely found in NYC, but if you have been traveling in more rural areas of New York such as Westchester and Long Island you are at greater risk of coming into contact with an infected tick.
The annual number of cases of Lyme disease reported continues to rise each year in non-rural communities.
Some of the early warning signs of Lyme disease are:
- Muscle aches
These signs and symptoms may occur anywhere from three to 30 days after being bitten. After an infected tick bite, a widening red area may appear at the infected site that is clear in the center, forming a bullseye appearance.
The best way to avoid contracting Lyme disease is to avoid direct contact with ticks. You can do this by avoiding wooded and brushy areas, and high grass. If you are hiking, try to walk in the center of the trails and wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. If in a wooded area you should use a strong repellent (with Deet). Dr. Klein cautions that when using any repellent, you should avoid applying the solution to your hands, eyes and mouth.
Some of the tips to find and remove ticks from your body and clothing are:
- Perform a check of your entire body viewing under your arms, behind and in your ears, inside your navel, behind your knees, along your legs, waist and hair. Also, check your pet.
- Take a shower soon after returning indoors. If you wash within two hours of returning indoors, the ticks are more easily found and washed off your body.
- Once you are indoors, take your clothing and place them in the wash using hot water and then put them in the dryer on “high” for at least 10 minutes; if the clothes were washed in cold water, place them in the dryer on “high” for at least 90 minutes
If Lyme disease is left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body causing arthritis cardiac and nervous system problems. If you would like to make an appointment with one of the many qualified doctors specializing in Internal Medicine at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-7001 to schedule.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.
What to know about Lyme disease
Share on PinterestAn erythema migrans (EM) rash should be reported to a doctor, as it may indicate Lyme disease.
Initial signs and symptoms of Lyme disease are usually very mild.
Some people may not notice any symptoms, or they may think they have flu.
After the initial phase, further symptoms develop.
Symptoms can disappear, but the disease can affect the body in other ways, years later.
Stage 1: Early Lyme disease
Erythema migrans (EM) is a rash that often appears in the early stage of Lyme disease, from 3 to 30 days after infection, or 7 days on average.
EM affects 70 to 80 percent of people who are infected.
- typically begins as a small red area that expands over several days, to reach a diameter of 12 inches or 30 centimeters
- may lose its color in the center, giving a bull’s-eye appearance
- usually starts at the site of the tick bite but can appear elsewhere as the bacteria spread
- is not painful or itchy but may feel warm to the touch
The rash may be less evident on darker skin.
Stage 2: Early disseminated Lyme disease
The rash will disappear after about 4 weeks, even without treatment, but other symptoms can emerge days to months after being bitten.
- meningitis, or inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, leading to headaches and a stiff neck
- additional rashes
- fever and chills
- swollen lymph nodes
- pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones, especially in the large joints
- heart palpitations or irregular heart beat
- facial palsy, or loss of muscle tone in one or both sides of the face
- dizziness and shortness of breath
- nerve pain and shooting pains, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
These symptoms may go away without treatment within a few weeks or months, but, in time, the person may experience further complications.
Anyone who may have Lyme disease should get medical help immediately. Early treatment is more effective.
Stage 3: Late disseminated Lyme disease
Also known as late Lyme disease, this may be the first sign of illness in some people.
Symptoms can emerge weeks, months, and even years after initial infection if a patient has not received treatment, or if antibiotic treatment has not been fully effective.
In some patients, this may be the first sign of illness.
It can involve problems with the nervous system and the heart.
The person may have:
- difficulty concentrating
- sleep and vision problems
- memory loss
- numbness, pain and tingling
- irregular heart beat
- joint pain
- paralysis of the face muscles
Around 60 percent of untreated patients will experience recurrent bouts of arthritis with severe joint swelling, especially in the large joints.
Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome
Even after treatment, a few people may experience post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, sometimes referred to as chronic Lyme disease.
This involves nonspecific symptoms, such as fatigue and joint pain, that can persist for months after treatment.
Antibiotics are unlikely to help, so treatment aims to relieve symptoms, for example through rest and anti-inflammatory medications.
The symptoms should resolve in time.