Lyme disease is a bacterial illness caused by a bacterium (a “spirochete”), Borrelia burgdorferi. Borrelia afzelii. Certain ticks found on deer harbor the bacterium in their stomachs.
With Lyme disease we will also look basically at some facts.
Lyme disease facts
- Lyme disease is a bacterial illness that is spread by tick bites.
- Lyme disease is not contagious from an affected person to someone else.
- The disease can affect the skin, joints, heart, and the nervous system.
- Lyme disease occurs in phases — the early phase beginning at the site of the tick bite with an expanding ring of redness.
- Lyme disease is diagnosed based on the patient’s clinical signs of illness and the detection of Lyme antibodies in the blood.
- Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics.
- Avoid tick habitats.
- Use personal protection measures.
- If you are going to be in areas that are tick infested, wear light-colored clothing so that ticks can be spotted more easily and removed before becoming attached.
- Wearing long-sleeved shirts and tucking pants into socks or boot tops may help keep ticks from reaching your skin.
- Ticks are usually located close to the ground, so wearing high rubber boots may provide additional protection.
- The risk of tick attachment can also be reduced by applying insect repellents containing DEET to clothes and exposed skin, and applying permethrin (which kills ticks on contact) to clothes.
- Perform a tick check and remove attached ticks
- The transmission of B. burgdorferi (the bacteria that causes Lyme disease) from an infected tick is unlikely to occur before 36 hours of tick attachment. For this reason, daily checks for ticks after exposure to deers in an endemic region and promptly removing any attached tick that you find will help prevent infection.
- Embedded ticks should be removed using fine-tipped tweezers. DO NOT use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish, or other products. Grasp the tick firmly and as closely to the skin as possible. With a steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from the skin. The tick’s mouthparts may remain in the skin, but do not be alarmed. The bacteria that cause Lyme disease are contained in the tick’s midgut. Cleanse the area with an antiseptic.
- Taking preventive antibiotics after a tick bite
- Individuals who are bitten by a deer tick should remove the tick and seek medical attention if any signs and symptoms of early Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, or babesiosis develop over the ensuing days or weeks.