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Lyme disease

Travel Guide Travel Health Lyme disease

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Introduction

Lyme Disease is caused by a bacteria which is transmitted to both animals and humans by infected ticks. Lyme disease is not isolated to only the United States, but it has been reported worldwide. [1] It was previously believed that the common deer tick was the primary carrier of the disease but research has found that different regions do have different tick species as the primary carriers. [2]

A tick's habitat is comprised mainly of wooded and brush-type areas. They can also be found in tall-grass areas where the vegetation has adequate moisture to remain green during the natural growing season. They do require a certain level of humidity to survive. Ticks can not jump or fly. They attach themselves to a "food source", usually at ground level, as the animal or human brush past the vegetation. Though the male tick will attach to a host, only the females feed from the host and transmit the bacteria. Ticks are most active during the months of May, June and July. [3][2][4]

Lyme Disease has become the fastest growing vector-borne disease in the world. It is vastly under-reported due to wildly inaccurate diagnostic tests. For more information visit LymeDiseaseResource.com: [5]. If you experience flu-like symptoms from spring through fall, it is a good indicator that you have been infected with Lyme.

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Prevention

  • Tuck your pant legs into your socks and your shirt into your pants.
  • Wear light colored clothing. Dark ticks are more easily spotted against a light background.
  • Inspect clothes often for ticks. Have a companion inspect your back.
  • Apply repellents according to label instructions. Applying directly to clothing appears to be most effective.
  • Upon returning to the home remove clothing and wash or put it in the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes to kill any ticks.
  • When you get in from the field shower and inspect your body thoroughly. Especially check groin, navel, armpits, head and behind knees and ears. Have a companion check your back, or use a mirror.
  • When hiking stay in the middle of trails. Do not bushwhack.

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Symptoms and Treatment

Symptoms

In 70-80% of people infected with Lyme disease, a rash (also known as erythema migrans) will begin to develop at the site of attachment. This rash may develop as quickly as 3 days or as long as 30 days post-infection. It will appear as an expanding red ring around the site and is commonly referred to as a "bulls-eye" rash. As the rash develops, flu-like symptoms (headache, achy joints, sore throat, fever, etc.) may also begin to appear. Some patients develop the rash without the flu-like symptoms and vice versa which can make diagnosis more difficult in the early stages.

If left untreated, Lyme disease can spread to different areas of the body and secondary symptoms may develop. These symptoms usually present themselves as muscle tone loss of the face (Bell's palsy), severe headaches, stiffness of the neck, heart palpitations and joint pain. Many of these will subside even without treatment. Eventually, patients who remain untreated will suffer intermittent occurrences of arthritis with severe pain and swelling of the joints. A small portion will develop neurological problems (tingling/numbness of hands and feet), difficulty with concentration and possible short term memory loss. [6]

Treatment

Stage One Treatment [7]
*Stage One is defined as the appearance of erythema migrans (bulls-eye rash) and associated flu-like symptoms.

Patients will receive oral antibiotics for 10-21 days, depended on the antibiotic and the patient's medical history. The recommended treatments are:

  • Doxycycline - 100mg twice daily - 10-21 days
  • Amoxicillin - 500mg three times daily - 14-21 days
  • Cefuroxime axetil - 500mg twice daily - 14-21 days

These treatments have been proven to be extremely effective at curing Lyme disease with no residual after affects.

Stage Two Treatment
*Stage Two is defined as those patients suffering neurological symptoms (Bell's palsy, etc. - as described above.).

Patients with advanced Lyme disease will (in most cases) require hospitalization and will receive antibiotics administered intravenously. Some facilities may elect to perform these treatments on an out-patient basis.

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This is version 16. Last edited at 18:00 on Jan 22, 13 by Isadora. 3 articles link to this page.

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