Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is spread by infected ticks, primarily deer ticks and western blacklegged ticks. The disease is transmitted mainly by immature ticks, or nymphs, which are smaller and harder to see than adult ticks. Anyone who's bitten by an infected tick could develop Lyme disease. All evidence suggests, however, that the disease cannot be transmitted from person to person once someone has Lyme disease.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
The main symptom of Lyme disease is a red rash that begins at the site of the bite. This develops in 70 to 80 percent of people who have Lyme disease. The rash appears, on average, about seven days after infection, and it gradually gets larger as it radiates out from the bite. If the infection goes untreated, other complications can develop in the days and weeks ahead, including pain and swelling of the joints, headaches and neck stiffness, pain “flares” and loss of muscle tone in the face (Bell’s palsy). Long term, Lyme disease can cause chronic arthritis and memory problems.
Prevention and Treatment
To prevent tick bites, it’s best to take avoidance measures when outdoors, such as not walking in tall grass and wearing bug spray. You can also treat your clothing, boots and other gear with a repellant that keeps off ticks. After hikes or other time outdoors, shower and do a thorough tick check of your body. Also check out your gear for any signs of ticks.
If you notice any signs or symptoms of Lyme disease, see a doctor as soon as possible. If Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics in its early stages, an infected person can usually make a full recovery. However, the problems become more chronic if the Lyme disease is not diagnosed and treated early on.
SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention