Lyme disease is transmitted to humans by infected ticks.
Feeding on rodents that have natural reservoirs of the bacteria infects the ticks. The ticks then infect the human by feeding on them.
Ticks cause a majority of the infections.
Ticks in the nymph stage of their life cycle are very small and may feed for long periods of time undetected.
The B. burgdorferi bacteria that cause Lyme disease is injected into the skin by the bite of an infected tick.
If untreated, the bacteria may persist in the body for months or even years, despite the production of B. burgdorferi antibodies by the immune system
The EM rash that has been used to diagnose Lyme disease is usually similar to a bull’s eye, but not always it can also be solid red.
Not all patients infected with Lyme disease develop the characteristic bull’s-eye rash.
The EM rash, which does not occur in all cases, is considered sufficient to establish a diagnosis of Lyme disease even when blood tests are negative.
The risk of infectious transmission increases with the length of time in which the tick was attached.
The bacterium that causes Lyme takes between 36 and 48 hours of attachment to travel from its saliva to the human host.
If the infected tick is found within 36 hours and the engorged tick is removed, a single dose of doxycycline administered within the 72 hours after removal may reduce the risk of Lyme disease.
Those afflicted with Lyme disease typically have fatigue, joint or muscle pain.
Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics.
The treatment regimens typically last from one to four weeks.
You can prevent getting bitten by ticks by wearing light-colored clothing to make ticks more visible, using special care in handling and not allowing outdoor pets inside homes because they can bring ticks into the house.
You can also use a pesticide like Permethrin that kills ticks on contact.
Applying insect repellents with Picaridin, IR3535, DEET, or oil of lemon eucalyptus also repel ticks.
If you suspect that you have Lyme’s disease seek the help of a certified medical professional.
Photo Credit: James Gathany Content Providers(s): CDC/ James Gathany [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons