Is Lyme disease a New Illness?

Studies of the DNA taken from ticks in the Natural History Museum show the infection was in the UK in Victorian times. Therefore, it is almost certainly not a new illness. However, it does appear to be becoming more common.

What is the treatment for Lyme disease?

The outlook varies from person to person. Whilst it is extremely unusual for the illness to be fatal, symptoms can range from mild to very severe. It is not in a patient’s best interests for the disease to remain untreated. Treatment is with antibiotics and is most effective if started as early as possible in the disease. The patient may be clinically cured if treated promptly. There is growing scientific and anecdotal evidence that suggest long term treatment may be necessary in some cases. Treatment regim...

How prevalent is Lyme disease?

In the United Kingdom, Lyme disease is carried by the sheep tick, Ixodes ricinus. This tick can also feed on deer and other wild mammals and birds. The tick prefers to live in woods, heath and moorland, although it does not occur exclusively in these habitats. People who live in the parts of the country where the tick is prevalent are likely to be at greater risk. However, cases of the disease are widespread and it is possible that the full picture of tick distribution is not yet fully understood. Anyone ca...

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Lyme disease can affect any part of the body and cause many different symptoms. The commonest symptoms relate to the person feeling unwell, having flu-like symptoms, extreme tiredness, muscle pain, muscle weakness, joint pain, upset digestive system, headache, disturbances of the central nervous system and a poor sleep pattern. In some cases a characteristically shaped, expanding ‘bull’s eye’ rash appears on the skin. However, a rash in any form is not a universal symptom. If the rash does occur, it is term...

How does Lyme disease start?

A clinical case of Lyme disease occurs when a person is infected by a tick bite. Symptoms follow after an incubation period that may last between two and thirty days. However, on some occasions, the bacteria do not cause disease straight away. The bacteria can enter a phase in which they do not cause symptoms but are still present. They may still have the potential to cause active disease at a later stage.

What is Borreliosis?

The disease resulting from infection with Borrelia burgdorferi is referred to as Lyme disease or Lyme borreliosis. There are many species of Borrelia bacteria worldwide, not all of them cause disease. Three species are currently known to cause disease in the UK. They are Borrelia burgdorferi (sensu stricto), Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii. They are very closely related and all cause a broadly similar disease process. An infection caused by Borrelia bacteria can be termed a ‘Borreliosis.’

How to remove attached ticks ?

Prompt removal of ticks decreases the chances of getting Lyme disease. The proper and easiest method is to grasp the tick with fine tweezers, as near the skin as you can, and gently pull it straight out. Be careful not to squeeze the tick when removing it which could result in more bacteria being injected. Do not try to remove the tick with your fingers or attempt to remove with lighted cigarettes, matches, nail polish, or vaseline. Once removed save the tick for identification. Accurate identification beco...

Lyme disease in domestic animals

Lyme disease has been described in dogs, cats, horses cows and goats. Symptoms can include fever, lameness and soreness, listlessness, loss of appetite, swollen glands and joints. Heart, kidney, liver, eye and nervous system problems are also described in animals. Laminitis is reported in horses and cows, as are poor fertility, abortions and chronic weight loss. Temperament changes have been reported in dogs and horses. Untreated animals can develop chronic progressive arthritis. Symptoms can be intermitten...

How to avoid tick bites

When out of doors several precautions can minimize your chances of being bitten. Tuck your pant legs into your socks and your shirt into your pants. Wear light colored clothing. Dark ticks are more easily spotted against a light background. Inspect clothes often for ticks. Have a companion inspect your back. Apply repellents according to label instructions. Applying directly to clothing appears to be most effective. Upon returning to the home remove clothing and wash or put it in the dryer for 30 minutes to...

Treatment for Lyme disease

Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics. Timely treatment increases chances of recovery and may lessen the severity of any later symptoms in both animals and man. The most effective treatment will be recommended by your physician or in the case of your animals by your veterinarian and will depend on the stage of the disease. Treatment for later stages is more difficult often requiring extended and repeated courses of antibiotic therapy. In animals and man treatment failures and relapses are reported.

Lyme disease symptoms in man

In about 50% of the cases a characteristic rash or lesion called erythema migrans is seen. It begins a few days to a few weeks after the bite of an infected tick. The rash generally looks like an expanding red ring. It is often described as looking like a bull's-eye with alternating light and dark rings. However, it can vary from a reddish blotchy appearance to red throughout. And can be confused with poison ivy, spider or insect bite, or ringworm. At about the same time that the rash develops, flu-like sym...

The deer tick in cases of Lyme disease

Ixodes dammini is responsible for most of the cases of Lyme disease in the northeastern United States. These ticks are found in grassy areas (including lawns), and in brushy, shrubby and woodland sites, even on warm winter days. They prefer areas where some moisture is present. The tick has three life stages: larva, nymph and adult. Each stage takes a single blood meal. They feed on a variety of warm blooded animals including man, dogs, cats, horses and cows. The bite is painless so most victims do not know...

Lyme disease diagnosis

Lyme disease is an illness caused by a spirochete bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted to animals and man through the bite of infected ticks. The disease is reported worldwide and throughout the United States. The states of New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey account for the majority of cases in the United States. However, cases are reported from all geographic regions of the country. Different ticks are carriers in the different regions. Ixodes dammini (the dee...

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