Lyme disease is an illness that is transferred to humans through ticks that bite and infect a person with a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. Ixodes (species of ticks) like to attach themselves to areas of the body that have hair, or areas that are moist. Ticks live in gardens and wooded areas. Since the United States has no vaccine available for protection from Lyme disease, steps should be taken to prevent Lyme disease. Diagnosis, treatment, prevention, advice and other information about Lyme disease is given below.
Early symptoms of Lyme disease may appear as a round area of redness where the tick bite is, but this is not the case with everyone and the rash may not affect everyone. Other early symptoms include aching muscles and joints, headaches, fever accompanied by tiredness, and enlarged lymph nodes. Later stage symptoms include evidence of arthritis, problems with the nervous system and abnormalities of the heart rhythm.
Assess whether or not you are experiencing any of the symptoms of Lyme disease and think back to any times when you may have exposed yourself to tick-infested areas.
Diagnostic testing for Lyme disease is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. These tests diagnose Lyme disease by checking the blood for antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi. Testing may also be done through samples of urine or body fluids, but this form of testing has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Lyme disease can be treated in its early stages with oral antibiotics such as doxycycline, amoxicillin and cefuroxime axetil (or Ceftin); however, medication may need to be administered intravenously for patients suffering from a neurological or heart ailment. Antibiotic treatment for long periods of time was revealed to be associated with major health complications and death.
The most obvious way to protect yourself from tick bites is to stay away from locations where ticks may dwell, mostly during the months of May, June and July. Wear clothes light in color so ticks can be seen, shirts with long sleeves and long pants, high shoes and a hat. Use an insect repellent according to directions, one that contains DEET. Check your body for ticks after being outside and immediately wash and dry clothing you’ve worn while outside at a high setting in your washer and dryer.
Cats do not get Lyme disease, but dogs can become infected. The use of a tick repellent designed for dogs, or the use of a collar that offers protection from tick bites, is recommended to protect your pet and you from becoming infected with Lyme disease. Also, according to the Center for Veterinary Medicine, there are two kinds of vaccines that can be given to a dog to protect it from Lyme disease, but the advice of a qualified veterinarian should be sought before administering one of these two vaccines to your dog.