What’s Lyme disease, you say? If you’re like me, the first thought that probably comes to mind is a disease you contract from eating limes. If you believe that, your brain may truly be turning sour. But all jokes aside, Lyme disease can be serious if left untreated. Lyme disease is caused by a species of bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, and is transmitted to humans from the bite of an infected blacklegged tick. If the tick stays attached to your skin for 36 to 48 hours, then, in most cases, the bacteria will have infected your blood. You’re more likely to contract Lyme disease in grassy and forest-like areas because blacklegged ticks thrive in those environments. Thus, during the summertime, people are at higher risk of infection because they’re more likely to travel to or hike in those types of areas.
Image Source: Robert Trevis-Smith
Symptoms of Lyme disease can vary depending on the stage of infection. Within a month after the tick bite, a skin rash called erythema migrans will most likely develop. This rash will look like an expanding red area with a bull’s-eye pattern, but it usually isn’t itchy or painful. In addition to a rash, flu-like symptoms can occur and you may have a fever, body aches, or fatigue. If Lyme disease is left untreated, in the subsequent weeks or months, it can cause joint pain and affect organs such as the brain and heart.
Treatment for Lyme disease involves taking antibiotics such as doxycycline or amoxicillin. The earlier the treatment is after the infection, the higher the probability is of a fast and complete recovery. One prevention technique includes avoiding grassy and wooded areas, where blacklegged ticks are more likely to live. If you are in those areas, you should cover up your body by wearing long pants, long sleeves, or gloves. In addition, a good idea is to use insect repellent to ward off ticks. Ultimately, if a tick does bite you, remember to stay cautious and be on the lookout for symptoms. If you think you’ve contracted Lyme disease, go see your doctor, because earlier diagnosis is always better than later.
Feature Image Source: Tick Reaching Out by psychmike