The Link between Flu-like Symptoms
and Lyme Disease
by Anna DeGaborik
Many people are unaware of the dangers associated with Lyme disease, an illness known to be transmitted by the blacklegged tick, also referred to as the deer tick. The blacklegged tick feeds on rodents and small animals that carry the bacterium Borrelia Burgdorferi. Consequently, the tick becomes infected and can transmit the bacteria to humans through a bite.
Contrary to popular belief, Lyme disease is not contagious through kissing or touching, and while dogs and cats can be bitten by an infected tick, there is no reported evidence that they can transmit the disease to humans. However, pets can carry infected ticks into the house, increasing the risk of illness to its human inhabitants.
Symptoms of Lyme disease
Lyme disease symptoms are most commonly experienced in three stages. Though rare, some people experience no symptoms at all during stage 1, and not all people will experience all 3 of the stages.
Usually, the first Lyme disease symptom to appear is erythema migrans, a distinct circular rash on the skin that begins at the site of the bite within 1 to 4 weeks. The rash may increase in size over time. It occurs in approximately 70% to 80% of infected people, and many experience additional flu-like symptoms such as:
* muscle and/or joint pain
* stiffness in the neck
* low energy and exhaustion
* swollen lymph nodes
If left untreated, Lyme disease symptoms can become more serious. Within weeks, sometimes months after the initial bite, the disease can trigger ailments within the nervous system and heart, as well as other more pronounced symptoms such as:
* multiple skin rashes
* pain and/or numbing of arms and legs
* moderate to severe headaches
* pinkeye (eye infections)
* muscle spasms
* arthritic pain
* heart palpitations
* serious fatigue and exhaustion
If not effectively treated, Lyme disease symptoms in the third stage can cause health problems for numerous months and sometimes years after the initial infection. Fatalities from Lyme disease are rare, but without proper medical intervention, the illness can develop into a chronic disease, including chronic arthritis and neurological disorders. If a pregnant woman is bitten by an infected tick, the bacteria can produce adverse effects on the unborn child, which can lead to miscarriage or still births.
Symptoms in the third stage are as follows:
* severe fatigue and exhaustion
* chronic Lyme arthritis
* swelling of the joints (especially the knees)
* partial facial nerve paralysis (Bell's palsy)
* memory loss
* lack of concentration or focus
* moderate to severe mood changes
* sleep disorders
* problems in speaking
*moderate to severe chronic heart problems and/or nervous system disorders
Precautions against Lyme disease
Taking certain precautions in order to prevent Lyme disease is the wise thing to do. Not only will it help avoid Lyme disease, but it will also decrease the risk of getting other tick and mosquito borne illnesses such as West Nile Virus and Yellow Fever.
Note the following precaution recommendations:
Wear protective clothing: Ensure that your clothes cover as much of your skin as possible (long sleeves and long pants). Avoid wearing sandals or open-toed shoes, especially when in a wooded area. Light-colored clothing will make it easier for you to detect ticks on you.
Apply insect repellent: Use a strong bug spray over your entire body, including your clothes. A high DEET level is most effective.
Safely remove ticks: Any ticks on your body must be carefully removed with tweezers. Slowly pull them out by the head and mouth (the part of the tick that is closest to your skin). Never crush or swat the tick, as it can provoke it to latch on even tighter.
If you suspect that you may have contracted Lyme disease, or are experiencing some or all of the Lyme disease symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. Early detection is the key to preventing this ailment from escalating into a serious chronic condition.
About the Author: Anna DeGaborik is the author for the All Mosquito Netting Info website http://www.mosquito-netting.com/. She studies insect diseases and prevention, specializing in mosquitoes.