Is there a vaccine against Lyme disease?

No, there isn't. There was a vaccine, called LYMErix, although it was never approved for young children. The manufacturer pulled it from the market after some controversy about its safety.

How can I protect my baby from ticks?

If your baby is starting to walk and explore the great outdoors, try to keep him out of wooded areas, fields, or seashores where ticks reside. If you're taking him hiking or camping, stay on the paths with him rather than traipsing through the densely wooded areas. Dress your baby in long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and tuck the ends of his pants into his socks. Clothing that is made of slick material (like windbreakers) is harder for ticks to grab onto than knits. It will be easier to spot ticks if your...

Shouldn’t the doctor prescribe antibiotics immediately?

Probably not. Many parents are so worried about Lyme disease that they want their kids to take antibiotics just in case the tick was infected. But the chances of this are slim. What's more, experts aren't sure whether antibiotics will work against Lyme disease during the first few weeks after a bite, before symptoms arise. The overuse of antibiotics poses its own dangers. Germs can become resistant to the drugs, which has become an increasing problem. So most experts recommend a wait-and-see (but watch for ...

Should I worry about Lyme disease when tick bites?

Ticks can carry a variety of germs, including the microbes that cause Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other diseases such as ehrlichiosis and tularemia. That's why it's important to remove the tick and clean the area as soon as you discover the problem. (Even if the tick is infected, removing it in the first 24 hours greatly reduces the chances that it will transmit Lyme disease.) After you remove a tick, keep an eye on your baby. If he seems ill or develops a rash or fever during the follow...

Can an insect bite or sting cause an infection?

A bite or sting can become infected within a few days, especially if your baby scratches it. If you notice swelling or a spreading area of redness around the bite, or if your baby has a fever, give his doctor a call. She may decide to put him on antibiotics. Be especially diligent about keeping your baby's nails short in the summer months, so he won't scratch away. If a tick bites your baby, watch for signs of Lyme disease — in particular, a circular rash or a ring around the bite. Take your baby to the doc...

Does Lyme disease affect mental functioning?

Like some other diseases caused by spirochaetes, there is a possibility that the infection can cross into the central nervous system. If the infection proceeds along this course then symptoms that affect mental function may occur. If the illness proceeds to this neurological stage, it is termed neuroborreliosis. This serious condition needs skilled treatment.

How do I know if I have got Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is not an easy diagnosis to make. This is especially so if the patient has no rash and does not recall an episode of tick bite. If a patient remembers a tick bite and then becomes unwell, Lyme disease is a possibility. There is no diagnostic test that is absolutely reliable in confirming a case of Lyme disease. Negative test results therefore, do not necessarily mean it is absent. After all exclusionary tests have been done; the diagnosis can be made on clinical grounds alone.

Can Lyme disease be prevented?

There are many measures you can take to protect yourself from ever falling victim to this nasty infection. There is however, no vaccine available at present. Prevention relies on people being aware of the risk that ticks present and using sensible measures to avoid being bitten. These measures include wearing suitable clothing and frequently checking the skin for ticks. It is also essential to know how to remove a tick properly if it is still present and to go promptly for medical advice if you notice any s...

Will my doctor treat me for Lyme disease?

If you have this diagnosis your doctor should treat you. However, many doctors are not familiar with treating Lyme patients. In this case, you may do better to see a doctor who is familiar with the disease. Always try to keep your GP involved and informed. A worsening of symptoms called a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction may complicate the start of treatment. This does not occur in every case but if it should occur further medical advice should be taken. Lyme disease is an infectious disease and the primary aim ...

A test for Lyme disease

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that the diagnosis of Lyme disease is based on symptoms, physical findings and the patient’s history. There are several laboratory tests that aim to detect this infection, however, none of them are absolutely reliable. If positive they support the diagnosis.

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.’

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