Lyme disease is a tick-borne bacterial disease caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.
Symptoms... The first symptom of Lyme disease is a rash which can expand to a diameter of 12 inches. It usually starts at the site of the tick bite, but can appear anywhere. It is painless and does not itch, and is usually hot to the touch, but not always. The rash usually clears up in 4 weeks, but if left untreated, Lyme disease can manifest and spread throughout the body. The second round of more intense symptoms usually show up weeks to months after the initial bite. These more advanced symptoms include the following: new and more widespread rashes, Bell's palsy, meningitis, inflamed and swollen joints, numbness or shooting pains in limbs, and in some cases abnormal heartbeat. After this stage, Lyme disease can still go away on its own, but if still left untreated, the patient is subject to more chronic symptoms, knows as Late Lyme Disease. Symptoms of this includes arthritis, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, and tingling or loss of feeling in hands or feet
What does this mean?... This progression of symptoms shows that Lyme disease can spread throughout the body and affect many of its systems. Lyme disease can be acute as in the short-lived rash, or chronic as in the long-term affects of arthritis, etc. It is recommended that patients receive treatment at the first signs of the rash, which gives a better chance at preventing the chronic symptoms. It is generally not lethal.
example of an early stage Lyme Disease rash from a tick bite
Bell's palsy, a possible symptom of untreated Lyme disease
Joint pain and inflammation is a common symptom of Lyme disease, and in chronic Lyme disease, it becomes arthritis
Treatment options... Antibiotics are used to treat Lyme disease. In its early stages, oral antibiotics are given - doxycycline for older children and adults and amoxicillin or cefuroxime for young children and pregnant of breast-feeding women. For the later and more intense stages of Lyme disease specifically affecting the central nervous system, patients are given intravenous antibiotics. Intravenous antibiotics eliminate the infection, but not necessarily the symptoms; they also come with many side effects such as diarrhea and susceptibility to other antibiotic-resistant organisms. However after all these treatments, many patients still experience chronic symptoms.
Incidence of Lyme disease... In 2015, there were 28,453 confirmed cases and 9,616 probable cases of Lyme disease in America. Lyme disease is most common in the Northeast and in Michigan and surrounding areas.
Works Cited... https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/tables.html