The sunny days and spring diversification cause us to spend as much time in nature. But with the rise in temperatures, the activity of ticks increases, which transmits various infectious diseases, including Lyme disease. Therefore, it is important that we are informed of the symptoms of this disease and how to protect ourselves from tick bites.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by bacteria belonging to the genus Borrelia: Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia garinii and Borrelia afzelii. This disease is transmitted through a sting of an infected tick. Therefore, the peak of disease spread is associated with the period when ticks are most active, i.e. between spring and autumn.
Bacteria carriers can be various animals, including dogs, deer, livestock, birds, rodents, etc.
There are three phases of Lyme disease:
In the first phase, Erythema chronicum migrans occurs. This change can occur from 3 to 30 days after infection with the bacteria. It is a circular skin rash that doesn’t itch. It is manifested as a clearly limited circular or oval redness, with a prominent center, whose shape increases over a period of several days or weeks, so it can reach a diameter of up to 20-30 centimeters. The rash most commonly occurs at the site of the sting, in most of the cases on the lower extremities, more precisely on the lower leg. As the infection spreads, a rash with a similar appearance may also occur in other parts of the body.
A few weeks or months after the primary phase (which is manifested in 50-70% of cases), there is a secondary phase. Symptoms include:
- skin manifestations similar to the first phase, but in addition to the site of the sting, also occur on other parts of the body;
- articular manifestations – arthritis of the large joints;
- neurological manifestations – encephalitis, myelitis, meningitis, facial nerve lesion, accompanied by strong night pains at the site of a sting;
- cardiac manifestations – (A-V block) inflammation of the myocardium and pericardium.
These symptoms in the patient may occur in isolation or in association.
The tertiary phase
If the disease is not treated before, the last and at the same time the most serious tertiary stage of the disease occurs. This phase is manifested in about 10% of the patients. Symptoms include:
- Chronic atrophic actodermatitis;
- Mood swings;
- Pain in the muscles and joints;
- Inability to control the facial muscles.
How is Lyme disease treated?
The treatment of Lyme disease is antibiotic. Depending on the stage at which the disease is diagnosed, appropriate antibiotics (amoxicillin, doxycycline, ceftriaxone, etc.) are given. Antibiotics can be received orally (if the disease is detected at an early stage) or parenterally (if the disease is detected at a later stage).
In a small proportion of people with Lyme disease, after treatment, some of the symptoms still persist. In this case, further treatment with antibiotics most often does not produce results.