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Lyme Disease: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis And Treatment

Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. The disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of black-legged deer ticks. Lyme is known as a "Great Imitator," as its pattern resembles different diseases. It can have a damaging effect on any organ of the body, including the brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, and the heart[1] .

The disease can affect anyone but is increasingly found in children and senior citizens. Lyme is known as a 'great Imitator', as its pattern resembles different diseases. Lyme disease can also affect memory, attention and cause word finding problems. It can also cause ADHD-like symptoms, learning disability, obsessive-compulsive disorder, weeping spells, rages, depression, bipolar disorder, panic, nervousness disorders and psychoses [2] .

If left untreated or treated incorrectly, it may cause cardiac complications, meningitis, encephalitis, cranial neuropathies, eyelid droop, facial weakness, numbness, pain, shoulder droop, sensory disturbances along with other neurological symptoms [3] . When this illness affects the mind it is referred to as Lyme neuroborreliosis or Lyme encephalopathy.

Symptoms Of Lyme Disease

The signs of the disease are classified into early signs and later signs [4] .

Early symptoms of lyme disease are as follows:

  • Rashes
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Swollen lymph node

Later signs of lyme disease are as follows [5] :

  • Joint pain
  • Neurological problems
  • Rashes that spread all over the body

Some of the other signs and symptoms of the diseases are heart problems (irregular heartbeat), eye inflammation, liver inflammation (hepatitis) and severe fatigue [6] .

Causes Of Lyme Disease

The Lyme disease was initially reported in the US, where it was caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii, carried primarily by black-legged or deer ticks [7] . In order for the bacteria to transmit the disease, it has to be attached to the body of the host for 36 to 48 hours.

Risk Factors Of Lyme Disease

The places you go to and live are all factors that can increase your risk for lyme disease. Exposed skin and spending time in heavy wooded areas and grassy areas can increase your chances of contracting the disease[8] .

Complications Of Lyme Disease

If left untreated, the disease can lead to chronic joint inflammation, neurological problems such as facial palsy and neuropathy, cognitive defects, such as impaired memory and heart rhythm irregularities [9] .

Diagnosis Of Lyme Disease

The signs and symptoms of Lyme disease are often found in other conditions as well, therefore making the diagnosis difficult. If you do not have any rashes, the doctor will ask about your medical history to gain some clarity about the symptoms.

Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test and Western blot test are the two diagnosis method, where the Western blot test is carried out if the ELISA test is positive - so as to confirm the diagnosis [10] .

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Treatment For Lyme Disease

Antibiotics are used as the treatment method for lyme disease. Oral antibiotics are the standard treatment for early-stage Lyme disease. Doxycycline for adults and children older than 8, or amoxicillin or cefuroxime for adults, younger children, and pregnant or breast-feeding women.

In case of involvement of the central nervous system, intravenous antibiotics will be the recommended form of treatment for a period of 14 to 28 days [11] .

Prevention Of Lyme Disease

Below mentioned are the ways that the Lyme disease can be prevented [12] .

  • Make a proper tick barrier between your lawn and the taller grasses.
  • Avoid exposure in wooded, overgrown grassy areas.
  • Stay out of tall grass and un-cleared areas of the forest floor.
  • Wear protective clothing such as long sleeves, long pants tucked into socks and shoes should be worn by persons.
  • Avoid going barefoot or opting for open-toe sandals.
  • Use insect repellents.
  • Remove ticks once found immediately by grasping them with tweezers and pulling them off from the skin.
View Article References
  1. [1] Burgdorfer, W., Barbour, A. G., Hayes, S. F., Benach, J. L., Grunwaldt, E., & Davis, J. P. (1982). Lyme disease-a tick-borne spirochetosis?. Science, 216(4552), 1317-1319.
  2. [2] Barbour, A. G. (1984). Isolation and cultivation of Lyme disease spirochetes. The Yale journal of biology and medicine, 57(4), 521.
  3. [3] Steere, A. C., Grodzicki, R. L., Kornblatt, A. N., Craft, J. E., Barbour, A. G., Burgdorfer, W., ... & Malawista, S. E. (1983). The spirochetal etiology of Lyme disease. New England Journal of Medicine, 308(13), 733-740.
  4. [4] Fraser, C. M., Casjens, S., Huang, W. M., Sutton, G. G., Clayton, R., Lathigra, R., ... & Gwinn, M. (1997). Genomic sequence of a Lyme disease spirochaete, Borrelia burgdorferi. Natur
  5. [5] Johnson, R. C., Schmid, G. P., Hyde, F. W., Steigerwalt, A. G., & Brenner, D. J. (1984). Borrelia burgdorferi sp. nov.: etiologic agent of Lyme disease. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, 34(4), 496-497.
  6. [6] Steere, A. C., Bartenhagen, N. H., Craft, J. E., Hutchinson, G. J., Newman, J. H., Rahn, D. W., ... & Malawista, S. E. (1983). The early clinical manifestations of Lyme disease. Annals of internal medicine, 99(1), 76-82.
  7. [7] Feder Jr, H. M., Johnson, B. J., O'Connell, S., Shapiro, E. D., Steere, A. C., Wormser, G. P., & Ad Hoc International Lyme Disease Group. (2007). A critical appraisal of “chronic Lyme disease”. New England Journal of Medicine, 357(14), 1422-1430.
  8. [8] Steere, A. C., Taylor, E., McHugh, G. L., & Logigian, E. L. (1993). The overdiagnosis of Lyme disease. Jama, 269(14), 1812-1816.
  9. [9] Benach, J. L., Bosler, E. M., Hanrahan, J. P., Coleman, J. L., Habicht, G. S., Bast, T. F., ... & Edelman, R. (1983). Spirochetes isolated from the blood of two patients with Lyme disease. New England Journal of Medicine, 308(13), 740-742.
  10. [10] Mead, P. S. (2015). Epidemiology of Lyme disease. Infectious Disease Clinics, 29(2), 187-210.
  11. [11] Berende, A., ter Hofstede, H. J., Vos, F. J., van Middendorp, H., Vogelaar, M. L., Tromp, M., ... & Kullberg, B. J. (2016). Randomized trial of longer-term therapy for symptoms attributed to Lyme disease. New England Journal of Medicine, 374(13), 1209-1220.
  12. [12] Kugeler, K. J., Farley, G. M., Forrester, J. D., & Mead, P. S. (2015). Geographic distribution and expansion of human Lyme Disease, United States. Emerging infectious diseases, 21(8), 1455-1457.

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