WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com — What is Lyme Disease and why do you need to be concerned about it?
According to the CDC, the Lyme disease bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, is spread through the bite of infected ticks.
The black-legged tick (or deer tick) spreads the disease in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and north-central United States. The western black-legged tick spreads the disease on the Pacific Coast.
Ticks can attach to any part of the human body. They must be attached for 36 to 48 hours or more before the Lyme Disease bacterium can be transmitted. There is no evidence that Lyme disease is transmitted from person to person.
Early signs & symptoms of Lyme Disease
- Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes may occur in the absence of rash
- Erythema migrans (EM) rash:
- Occurs in approximately 70 to 80 percent of infected persons
- Begins at the site of a tick bite after a delay of 3 to 30 days (average is about 7 days)
- Expands gradually over several days reaching up to 12 inches or more (30 cm) across
- May feel warm to the touch but is rarely itchy or painful
- Sometimes clears as it enlarges, resulting in a target or “bull’s-eye” appearance
- May appear on any area of the body
- Does not always appear as a “classic” erythema migrans rash
Later signs & symptoms of Lyme Disease
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes on other areas of the body
- Facial palsy (loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face)
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints.
- Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- Heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat (Lyme carditis)
- Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
- Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
- Nerve pain
- Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
Most cases of Lyme disease can be cured with a 2 to 4-week course of antibiotics.
Other forms of Lyme Disease could require longer courses of antibiotics or intravenous treatment.
However, some people have symptoms of pain, fatigue, or difficulty thinking that lasts for more than 6 months after finishing treatment — this is called Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS).
The Pennsylvania DCNR recommends checking yourself and your pets for ticks after coming inside. It takes around 7 hours for a tick to burrow into your body.
If you’ve found a tick attached to you, you can visit ticklab.org/test-my-tick and fill out details on the person bitten.
Currently, in Pennsylvania, there are 13,610 infected ticks, and 30,560 uninfected ticks that have been tested.
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