Learn About lyme disease...
Education is the only DEFENSE WE HAVE
Know your Ticks, it could save your life
MANY OF US HAVE HEARD ABOUT LYME DISEASE, BUT WHAT IS IT REALLY?. GET THE FACTS
Lyme disease is a bacterial illness by a bacterium called a "spirochete." In the United States, the actual name of the bacterium isBorrelia burgdorferi.
Certain ticks usually found on deer from various locations harbor the bacterium in their stomachs. Unsuspecting humans and animals walking through woodlands may be bitten by a tick and never know it. The tiny ticks, some the size of a poppy seed can stay on your body for hours and sometimes days. The tick fills itself up with blood and if infected, the spirochete is transmitted to the bloodstream of the person or animal during the bite.
Lyme disease is not contagious from an affected person to someone else.
*although not confirmed, I have read many research papers that say otherwise. Confirmation is coming soon, we hope anyway.
WHAT IF YOU THINK YOU WERE BIT?
Early detection and recognition is SO important. If you find a tiny tick attached to your skin, if you were in a known tick-infested area, or if you have the described symptoms, SEE YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY. Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis using clinical history and symptoms. If a physician observes EM rash (red bulls-eye rash) a diagnosis of Lyme Disease will be made. If a rash is not seen, laboratory tests are often needed to help with the diagnosis.
*Even if you think you have Lyme Disease, demand Doxycycline, this will greatly help your chances of preventing symptoms and killing the disease.
What other diseases can the tick carry? Are there other Tick-borne Diseases?
The same tick that carries the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease, can also carry other pathogens, also called co-infections. The most common are Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Bartonellosis and Rickettsiosis (Rocky Mountain Spotted fever). It is estimated that 25% of the ticks that cause Lyme disease may transmit one or more of these specific other diseases.
*It is stated 25% however, in my opinion, I believe it is a higher percentage. I personally have 2 co-infections, Bartonellosis and Babesiosis. I have not spoken to one individual yet that doesn't or hasn't had at least one other co-infection but again, just my opinion.
Babesiosis is like Malaria, with the symptoms being fever, chills, vomiting and fatigue. There are two forms of Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasma phagocytophila (HGA) and HME (Human Monocytic Ehrlichiosis). HGA is primariliry in the Southeast, lower Midwest and Southwest, with some cases reported in NJ,NY,WI and CA.
Rickettsiosis is transmitted by the bite of an infected tick species, these include the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis),Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni), and brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus). Typical symptoms include: fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, and muscle pain. A rash may also develop, but is often absent in the first few days, and in some patients, never develops. Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be a severe or even fatal illness if not treated in the first few days of symptoms. Doxycycline is the first line treatment for adults and children of all ages, and is most effective if started before the fifth day of symptoms. All These acute diseases may have symptoms of fever, chills, vomiting and fatigue and require prompt antibiotics. Subclinical forms of these diseases may be present in patients with Lyme Disease.
Early signs of BARTONELLOSIS include fever, fatigue, headache, poor appetite, and an unusual streaked rash that resembles “stretch marks” from pregnancy. Swollen glands are typical, especially around the head, neck and arms. Patients with bartonelliosis report more neurological symptoms and are more likely to have visited a neurologist than members of the general population. Some common symptoms include blurred vision, numbness in the extremities, memory loss, balance problems, headaches, ataxia (unsteady gait), and tremors. Bartonellosis also sometimes triggers psychiatric manifestations.
Learn More About Co-infections Below, Click on the picture to view larger image.
All entries marked with an * asterisk are my personal experiences or opinions, I am not a medical professional just a patient that has learned a lot of information by going through this for 4 years. I offer my experience so that when faced with the same outcome or situation, you have some insight and can make a decision accordingly.
A characteristic red bulls-eye rash (Erythema Migrans or EM) is present in LESS THAN 40% of patients. The rash may appear within days to weeks after the bite, but sometimes is hidden in a hairline or underarms.
*I never presented with a rash and because my symptoms were so severe, Doctors thought it had to be something more serious. Frequently Doctors are uneducated about Lyme and your symptoms will get worse. The longer it goes untreated, the worse they get and the harder they are to get rid of.
Some people get a small bump or redness at the site of a tick bite that goes away in 1 to 2 days, like a mosquito bite. This is not a sign that you have Lyme disease. However, ticks can spread other organisms that may cause a different type of rash.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease Include: Flu-like symptoms Fever Aches Fatigue Muscle Pain & Stiffness Arthritic symptoms in joints, knees, elbows, knuckles Neck Stiffness Jaw Discomfort Sweats/Chills Shooting Pains Headaches Symptoms may appear and re-appear at various times. Nervous system abnormalities include Memory Loss and partial facial paralysis (Bell's Palsy). Migratory joint pains, pains in the tendons, muscles and bones may occur later in the disease.
Typical Bulls-eye (EM) Rash
For more information, please visit the CDC website by clicking on the pictures below.
Early disseminated Lyme Disease, multiple red lesions with dusky centers
Other symptoms include swelling
how to safely remove a tick
WHAT TESTS ARE AVAILABLE?
Several tests are available for diagnosis of Lyme Disease. These include direct and indirect tests. Indirect tests look for the patient's immune response to B. burgdorferi. Direct tests look for the presence of B. burgdorferi antigens or nucleic acids.
two-step laboratory testing
The CDC currently recommends a two-step process when testing blood for evidence of antibodies against the Lyme disease bacteria. Both steps can be done using the same blood sample.
The first step uses a testing procedure called “EIA” (enzyme immunoassay) or rarely, an “IFA” (indirect immunofluorescence assay). If this first step is negative, no further testing of the specimen is recommended. If the first step is positive or indeterminate (sometimes called "equivocal"), the second step should be performed. The second step uses a test called an immunoblot test, commonly, a “Western blot” test. Results are considered positive only if the EIA/IFA and the immunoblot are both positive.
The two steps of Lyme disease testing are designed to be done together. CDC does not recommend skipping the first test and just doing the Western blot. Doing so will increase the frequency of false positive results and may lead to misdiagnosis and improper treatment.
Several types of EIA tests exist. Validated and FDA-approved EIAs include “ELISA” (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) and “ELFA” (enzyme-linked fluorescent immunoassay). Lyme disease testing measures a person's antibody (or immune response) to the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. EIA tests are designed to be very "sensitive”, meaning that when they are used properly, almost everyone with Lyme disease will test positive.
It is also possible, however, to test positive with an EIA test even when you do not have Lyme disease. This can occur because of other medical conditions, including:
- Tick-borne relapsing fever
- Anaplasmosis (formerly known as granulocytic ehrlichiosis)
- Some autoimmune disorders (e.g., lupus)
- Bacterial endocarditis
- Infection with Helicobacter pylori, Epstein Barr virus, or Treponema denticola (bacteria found in the mouth that can cause gum disease and/or infection after dental procedures)
For this reason, doctors want to verify any "positive" or “equivocal” (indeterminate) EIA results by performing an immunoblot test such as a Western blot. The Western blot or other FDA-approved type of immunoblot can help distinguish patients who have Lyme disease from those with other conditions.
The immunoblot is a laboratory test that looks for antibodies the body makes against different molecules, or “antigens,” that are part of the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Western Blots were the first type of immunoblot developed for Lyme disease testing. Later, a striped type of immunoblot was approved by the FDA that does not require human interpretation of bands.
Practically speaking, the test produces something that looks like a bar code used on grocery items, with several lines or “bands”. Each line represents antibodies to a different component of the bacteria. As with bar codes, the presence of any one or two lines is not particularly meaningful. Instead, it is the combination of multiple, specific lines that identifies the infection as being due to Borrelia burgdorferi.
Immunoblot tests for Lyme disease testing can detect two different classes of antibodies: IgM and IgG. IgM antibodies are made sooner, so testing for them can be helpful for identifying patients during the first few weeks of infection. The downside of testing for IgM antibodies is that they are more likely to give false positive results. Tests for IgG antibodies are more reliable, but can take 4-6 weeks for the body to produce in large enough quantities for the test to detect them.
If this sounds complex, that’s because it is. Just remember the following:
- The immunoblot should not be run without first performing an EIA or IFA.
- The immunoblot should not be run if the EIA or IFA tests are negative.
- A positive IgM immunoblot is only meaningful during the first 4 weeks of illness
- If you’ve been ill for longer than 4-6 weeks and the IgG immunoblot test is negative, it is unlikely that you have Lyme disease, even if the IgM immunoblot is positive.
New tests may be developed as alternatives to one or both steps of the two-step process. Before CDC will recommend new tests, their performance must be demonstrated to be equal to or better than the results of the existing procedure, and they must be FDA approved. For more details, see:Recommendations for Test Performance and Interpretation from the Second National Conference on Serologic Diagnosis of Lyme Disease.