Everything you want to know about Lyme disease

You might need to be a bit extra cautious when strolling within the woods this summer season. An intense winer within the Northeast U.S. protected the ticks, and which will imply extra of them will carry Lyme illness. However don’t enable the fear of ticks to maintain you from the good outside — simply be told.

Lyme illness — so named as a result of it was first reported in the US within the city of Previous Lyme, Connecticut, in 1975 — is brought on by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. It’s unfold by the chunk of contaminated blacklegged ticks (also referred to as deer ticks) in New England, Mid-Atlantic and Nice Lakes areas. It will also be unfold by the western blacklegged tick within the Pacific Northwest.

Whereas the variety of Lyme illness instances is rising, it stays a largely regional concern. In line with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC), 95 p.c of Lyme illness instances in 2015 had been reported from 14 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. (You’ll be able to see reported instances of Lyme illness through the years mapped out here from the CDC.)

“Usually, Lyme illness is just not acquired within the southeastern United States and central Texas,” says Dr. Paul Auwaerter, an affiliate professor of drugs on the Johns Hopkins College College of Medication who additionally serves because the scientific director for the Division of Infectious Illnesses.

Lyme illness is extra frequent in northern states due to massive numbers of the deer tick’s most popular hosts: white-footed mice and deer, according to the American Lyme Disease Foundation. White-footed mice are the principal “reservoirs of an infection” on which many larval and ticks feed, in line with the group’s web site.

Nevertheless regardless that the illness is primarily discovered up North, a recent survey conducted by Quest Diagnostics revealed that Lyme illness instances have been reported in all 50 states.

“Lyme illness is a much bigger danger to extra folks in the US than ever earlier than,” mentioned Dr. Harvey W. Kaufman, senior medical director for Quest Diagnostics and head of the corporate’s Well being Tendencies analysis program. “Our information present that constructive outcomes for Lyme are each growing in quantity and occurring in geographic areas not traditionally related to the illness. We hypothesize that these vital charges of enhance might reinforce different analysis suggesting altering local weather circumstances that enable ticks to stay longer and in additional areas might issue into illness danger.”

Whereas they might transmit different illnesses, ticks frequent in different components of the nation — such because the Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum), the American canine tick (Dermacentor variabilis), the Rocky Mountain wooden tick (Dermacentor andersoni) and the brown canine tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) — should not identified to transmit Lyme illness, in line with the CDC.

However even discovering the precise tick — or fallacious tick, relying in your standpoint — latched onto your pores and skin doesn’t suggest you are going to get Lyme illness. Normally, the tick should be connected for greater than 36 hours earlier than the micro organism might be transmitted.

“If you happen to get the tick off inside 24 to 36 hours, you are not going to get Lyme illness,” says Dr. Michael Zimring, co-author of “Wholesome Journey” and director of the Heart for Wilderness and Journey Medication at Mercy Medical Heart in Baltimore.

The function of the mouse

white-footed mouse White-footed mice infect as much as 95 p.c of ticks that feed on them. (Photograph: Szasz-Fabian Jozsef/Shutterstock)

New York ecologists Rick Ostfeld and Felicia Keesing have been learning Lyme illness for greater than twenty years. They’re able to predict what number of instances there will probably be annually by counting the mice the yr earlier than.

That is as a result of mice are very environment friendly transmitters of the illness and infect the vast majority of ticks carrying Lyme within the Northeast. They infect as many as 95 p.c of ticks that feed on them.

“A person mouse might need 50, 60, even 100 ticks overlaying its ears and face,” Ostfeld tells NPR. “We’re anticipating 2017 to be a very dangerous yr for Lyme.”

That is within the Northeast, at the least. Up to now, early surges in tick exercise have been reported in areas as numerous as Michigan and California. Areas the place the winter has been delicate and mice inhabitants is excessive will probably expertise a dangerous summer season for Lyme illness.

However regional predictions aren’t as essential as realizing that for those who’re in a kind of 14 states the place Lyme illness is endemic, take precautions.

“There’s at all times an enormous danger,” Dr. John Aucott, director of the Johns Hopkins Rheumatology Lyme Illness Analysis Heart, informed the Huffington Post. “It’s not like a danger of a twister, the place the twister is both there or not.”

Lyme illness signs and when to fret

A close-up of a deer tick, Ixodes scapularisSolely sure ticks, just like the deer tick pictured right here, will transmit Lyme illness to people. (Photograph: Steven Ellingson/Shutterstock)

How are you going to inform how lengthy the tick has been there? Is it filled with blood?

“If the tick is flat — likelihood is you did not get Lyme illness,” says Auwaerter.

The telltale symptom of Lyme illness is a crimson, round “bulls-eye” rash that seems 5 to 14 days after an infection. The CDC says about 70 to 80 p.c of individuals contaminated develop the rash, however Dr. Steven Soloway, a board-certified rheumatologist in Vineland, New Jersey, says the numbers could also be larger and many individuals merely do not discover the rash. Different signs on this first stage of Lyme illness embody fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches and swollen lymph nodes.

The signs will fade, even when untreated. Signs of stage 2 Lyme illness, also referred to as early disseminated Lyme illness, embody swollen joints, notably the knees. The signs are much like rheumatoid arthritis. The distinction, Soloway says, is that rheumatoid arthritis usually impacts knuckles first.

Different signs embody Bell’s palsy and coronary heart palpitations and dizziness because of modifications in heartbeat.

Lyme illness remedy

deer tick If you happen to’ve been bitten by a deer tick like this one, the telltale symptom of Lyme illness is a crimson, round bulls-eye rash that seems 5 to 14 days after an infection. (Photograph: Steven Ellingson/Shutterstock)

“There’s a present behavior being promoted by many medical doctors, hospitals, emergency rooms, the place if any individual has a tick chunk, they’re given a single dose (within the type of two capsules) of doxycycline to stop Lyme illness,” Lyme Motion Community president Christina Fisk told the Press Republican.

Nevertheless, she says there is a lack of proof exhibiting that this remedy is efficient, regardless that the CDC recommends it. “It is based mostly on a really small examine accomplished solely over a six-week interval, and all it proved was that the 2 capsules stop a rash from occurring. It doesn’t kill the micro organism. It doesn’t stop the illness. It solely prevents a rash and, due to this fact, complicates analysis in a while down the road.”

Fisk’s group says that the Worldwide Lyme and Related Illness Society’s recommendation is to refuse the dose of doxycycline. The medical society “has discovered that many, many individuals who get that remedy go on to have power Lyme,” says Fisk.

Lyme illness is handled with antibiotics for 2 to 4 weeks. The overwhelming majority of sufferers get well shortly, consultants say. A small share of individuals handled for Lyme illness will proceed to have some signs. Though typically known as power Lyme illness, this situation is formally known as post-treatment Lyme illness syndrome. The reason for PTLDS is not identified. However remedy, consultants say, ought to goal the precise signs, equivalent to joint swelling. Lengthy-term use of IV antibiotics is just not acceptable, consultants say.

You’ll be able to take steps to stop Lyme illness by taking steps to keep away from a tick chunk. Keep away from bushy and grassy areas when strolling within the woods, particularly within the areas with deer ticks. Put on lengthy pants and long-sleeved shirts and put on insect repellent containing DEET on uncovered pores and skin. After strolling in wooded areas, completely test the pores and skin for the poppy seed-sized ticks.

Editor’s word: This story was initially printed in Could 2012 and has been up to date with new info.

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