LYME DISEASE – SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS EN You get Lyme disease when the tick bites you and stays attached for 36 to 48 hours. If you remove the tick within 48 hours, chances are you won’t get... Lyme Disease *Signs and Symptoms* What is *Lyme Disease?* Lyme disease (Borreliosis) is a bacterial infection that can be spread to humans by infected ticks, such as the black-legged tick or deer tick You get Lyme disease when the tick bites you and stays attached for 36 to 48 hours. If you remove the tick within 48 hours, chances are you won’t get infected. When you’re infected, the bacteria travel through your bloodstream and affect various tissues in your body. If you don’t treat Lyme disease early on, it can turn into an inflammatory condition that affects multiple systems, starting with your skin, joints, and nervous system and moving to your organs later on. Did you know? Ticks can attach to any part of the body but are often found in hard-to-see areas, such as the scalp, armpits, and groin. Who is at risk of *Lyme disease?* Boys up to age 15 and men between the ages of 40 and 60 are the most likely to get Lyme disease Lyme disease can affect anyone but is most common on boys and men, as they tend to play outside and go camping, hunting, and hiking. People who spend time in grassy or heavily wooded areas or are in contact with certain animals such as deer and sheep are also at rick. Summer and autumn is when most cases occur. Did you know Ticks are active from spring to autumn and can be found in both urban and rural environments. Signs and *symptoms* Lyme disease usually evolves over three stages which can overlap, but not all patients go through all three stages Stage 1: Early Localised Disease Symptoms can start anywhere from 3 to 30 days after the tick bite. Lyme Disease is the easiest to cure at this stage because the infection has not yet spread throughout the body. The Lyme rash, known as Erythema migrans, is often described as looking like a bull's-eye on a dart board, with circles around the middle. The rash slowly gets bigger over several days. It can grow to about 12 inches in diameter. It may feel warm to the touch, but it’s usually not itchy or painful. It can appear on any part of your body. Although a bulls-eye rash is a tell-tale sign of Lyme disease, this is NOT the most common manifestation of a Lyme disease rash. The most common rash is a round red rash that expands to more than 2 inches in diameter. Other symptoms, which are similar to the flu, include: Fever Chills Headache Fatigue Muscle and joint pain Swollen lymph nodes Stage 2: Early Disseminated Lyme (Days to months after tick bite) In addition to flu-like symptoms, this stage is often characterized by an increase in symptoms such as: Chills Fever Headache Fatigue Pain, weakness or numbness in your arms or legs Vision changes Heart palpitations Rashes on other areas of your body Facial palsy (drooping on one or both sides of your face) The most prominent symptoms is a distinctive circular rash at the site of the tick bite that usually lasts for several weeks; but some people develop a different kind of rash or none at all State 3: Late Disseminated Lyme Disease If Lyme disease isn’t promptly or effectively treated in the first two stages, Late Disseminated Lyme Disease occurs weeks, months or even years after the tick bite. The Lyme bacteria have spread throughout the body and many patients develop chronic arthritis as well as an increase in neurological and cardiac symptoms. Symptoms may include:: Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly in your knees Severe headaches or migraines Intermittent pain in your tendons, muscles, joints, and bones Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath Inflammation in your brain or spinal cord Nerve pain Neck stiffness Sleep disturbances, insomnia Irregular heart beat Mental fogginess, concentration issues Numbness in your arms, legs, hands or feet Problems with following conversations and processing information Severe fatigue Some of these symptoms will get better slowly with treatment. However, they can persist if treatment is started late. A few people with Lyme disease go on to develop chronic Lyme disease and have these lasting symptoms Questions and *Answers* Q. How is Lyme disease diagnosed? A. Lyme disease may be difficult to diagnose because many of its symptoms are similar to those of other disorders. The fever, muscle aches, and fatigue of Lyme disease can be mistaken for viral infections, such as the flu. Joint pain can be mistaken for arthritis, and neurologic signs can mimic those caused by other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis. In addition, diagnosis can be more difficult if the typical Lyme disease rash was not seen or didn’t happen. Many people can’t recall having been bitten by a tick, because its bite is usually painless. Your doctor will diagnose you based on your symptoms, medical history and whether you’ve been exposed to a tick. The infection is then confirmed by blood tests. In the first couple of weeks, the test may be negative because antibodies take time to show up. Q. How is Lyme disease treated? A. Common antibiotics (such as doxycycline or amoxicillin) are effective at clearing the infection, early symptoms and in helping to prevent the development of complications. If untreated, the disease will progress to a chronic condition in about half of patients. Antibiotics are generally given for up to three weeks. If complications develop, intravenous antibiotics may need to be used to treat the infection. Q. Is there a vaccine against Lyme disease? A. There are Lyme disease vaccines available for dogs. Currently, however there is no vaccine available against human Lyme disease. Active research into vaccine development is taking place in Europe and the US, and some candidate vaccines are beginning to show promise. Q. Can you get Lyme disease from pets? A. You can't get Lyme disease from your pet. Dogs, cats, cows and horses can become infected with Lyme disease bacteria, but they can't pass it to humans. But infected ticks may fall off your pet and then bite and infect you. Dogs are particularly susceptible to Lyme Disease. Symptoms may not appear for 7-21 days or longer after a tick bite, so watch your dog closely for changes in behaviour or appetite. Tick bites on dogs may be hard to detect. If you find a tick on your dog, remove it as you would in a human. Q. How do I remove an attached tick? Gently grip the tick as close to the skin as possible using a pair of fine tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool Pull steadily away from your skin without twisting the tick Wash your skin with warm water and soap afterwards, and apply an antiseptic cream to the skin around the bite. Q. When you should call your doctor A. Call your doctor if: You can’t remove an entire tick from your body. You develop a circular red rash that grows over several days, particularly if you know you were recently exposed to ticks. You may also have flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, headache, stiff neck, fever, chills, or body aches. You feel unusually tired, or you have joint pain, with redness and swelling, a severe headache, or neck pain. You’re pregnant or breastfeeding and you think you may have been exposed to ticks. The early diagnosis and proper treatment of Lyme disease are important strategies to avoid the complications of late-stage illness. As soon as you notice a characteristic rash or other possible symptoms, consult your health care provider. Q. What’s the best way to prevent a tick bite? A. You can lessen your chances of being bitten by a tick by taking a few simple precautions: Wear long trousers tucked into socks or boots and a long-sleeved shirt in areas with lots of trees. Wear shoes, not sandals or bare feet, in wooded areas or on grass. Wear light-coloured fabrics that can help you spot a tick on your clothes. Walk in the middle of paths and trails, and avoid overgrown vegetation. Use an insect repellent on your skin and clothing that contains DEET, lemon oil, or eucalyptus. Inspect your skin for ticks, particularly at the end of the day, including your head, neck and skin folds (armpits, groin, and waistband) – and remove any ticks you find as soon as possible. Check that your pets do not bring ticks into the home in their fur.