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Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. The organism can be transmitted to humans through bites from infected black-legged or deer ticks that have fed on animals carrying this microbe--such as birds or mice! 

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A tick must remain attached for at least 36 hours in order for transmission to occur - many people with Lyme disease don't even realize they're being bitten during all those long walks around town :)

Lyme disease is a serious illness that can affect anyone. It’s the most common tick-borne infection in Europe and North America, but it doesn't just strike people who live or spend time outdoors - you may contract this bacteria even if your only trip outside was going grocery shopping!

In order to avoid getting infected with Lyme disease avoid bug bites when out walking around town, make sure not to wear shoes without socks (!)
If there's any chance at all I'll end up traveling near wooded areas where deer ticks are known inhabitants from April through September please let me know ahead of time so we don't have an unpleasant surprise on our hands.

Symptoms of Lyme disease

People with Lyme disease may react to it differently (with a wide variety of symptoms),  or seemingly not at all. This is because the infection varies in severity and some people will present with only one symptom while others might be experiencing more than one type simultaneously- sometimes there’s no way for us to know which stage your situation falls under!

Symptoms include:

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Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you have any of these symptoms.


Lyme disease symptoms in children

Children generally experience the same Lyme disease symptoms as adults. They may have the same difficulties breathing, joint pain, and muscle spasms as adults; however, there is no guarantee an infection will manifest itself in this manner since it takes about three weeks for early signs to show up on your child’s skin (Newbury - Reuters). Regardless if he or she has shown any outward evidence so far they will likely end up with a rash - 89% of all kids surveyed had them according to one study done by researchers at University College London Medical School back in 2006 (Lyme Disease Foundation). 

Spider on top of wood.

What does the rash look like?

Most people who have a tick-borne illness will develop an expanding red round lesion known as “the bull’s eye, with circles around its middle" Some are more irregular shaped, (Measles mimic this pattern quite nicely), it is important not only for diagnosis but also treatment options that you get your rash checked out by a doctor. A common rash found on humans and caused by ticks looks mostly circular in shape rather than having sharply defined edges and developes over several days  - there may still appear some bumps along its surface which would indicate where an individual had been bitten before being infected.

How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed?

Your doctor will diagnose you based on your symptoms and whether you have engaged in activities where you might’ve been exposed to a tick. They may also run a blood test. In the first few weeks of infection, the test may be negative because antibodies take a few weeks to show up.
Hopefully soon, there will be tests that can diagnose Lyme disease in the first few weeks after you’re exposed. The earlier you get treated, the less likely it’ll get worse.


What Are the Stages of Lyme Infection?

There are 3 distinct phases and a lot that can happen in those three phases! (Early localized, early disseminated and late dissemination. )

Early localized Lyme:
In stage 1 there may be flu-like symptoms like fever or chills with swollen lymph nodes as well as sore throat and headache; if this continues for more than two weeks then you could have an advanced case known as "early disseminated".

Early Disseminated Lyme:
The next level up would become apparent at Stage 2 when we see changes to your vision along with weakness/numbness affecting parts such as arms & legs such as with Bell’s PalsyHeart palpitations and chest pain are also common.  These things typically occur within 7 days after being bitten by vermin carrying Bburgdorferi spirochetes (the bacteria which causes Lyme disease).

Late disseminated Lyme:
This final stage can happen weeks, months, or years after the tick bite. Symptoms might include arthritis and severe fatigue as well as headaches dizziness trouble sleeping and confusion.

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It is estimated that about 10% of people who are treated for Lyme disease don’t shake the infection. These individuals can have three core symptoms: joint or muscle pain, fatigue, and short-term memory loss/confusion which doctors refer to as post-treatment syndrome (PTS). Lyme disease is not always easy to diagnose because it shares similar characteristics with other diseases; plus there isn't a blood test available at this time or standard practice to determine whether one has been infected by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria from ticks.


Lyme disease is an illness that can be transmitted to humans by deer ticks. The bacteria in question, Borrelia burgdorferi, and Borrelia mayonii are carried primarily through black-legged or brown nymphal Ixodes dammini (the latter being mostly found on children).

To contract Lyme Disease an infected tick must attach to your skin for at least 36 hours but usually 48+ hours.  Then engorgement occurs before feeding upon one's host; this means if you find any sort of swollen attached bug with blood spilling out its mouth it might’ve already fed long enough to transmit bacteria. Removing the tick as soon as possible might prevent infection.

Risk factors

Where you live or vacation can affect your chances of getting Lyme disease. So can your profession and the outdoor activities you enjoy. The most common risk factors for Lyme disease include:
  • Spending time in wooded or grassy areas. In the United States, deer ticks are found mostly in the heavily wooded areas of the Northeast and Midwest. Children who spend a lot of time outdoors in these regions are especially at risk. Adults with outdoor jobs also are at increased risk.
  • Having exposed skin. Ticks attach easily to bare flesh. If you're in an area where ticks are common, protect yourself and your children by wearing long sleeves and long pants. Don't allow your pets to wander in tall weeds and grasses.
  • Not removing ticks promptly or properly. Bacteria from a tick bite can enter your bloodstream if the tick stays attached to your skin for 36 to 48 hours or longer. If you remove a tick within two days, your risk of getting Lyme disease is low.


Complications of untreated Lyme disease can include: chronic joint inflammation (Lyme arthritis), particularly in the knee; neurological symptoms such as facial palsy and neuropathy. Cognitive defects, such a impaired memory are also possible outcomes from not treating this infection promptly enough.

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If you think that someone might have been infected by tick bites make sure they get treated immediately!


When to see a doctor

If you've been bitten by a tick and have symptoms

Only a minority of tick bites lead to Lyme disease. The longer the tick remains attached to your skin, the greater your risk of getting the disease. Lyme infection is unlikely if the tick is attached for less than 36 to 48 hours.
If you think you've been bitten and have signs and symptoms of Lyme disease — particularly if you live in an area where Lyme disease is common — contact your doctor. Treatment for Lyme disease is more effective if begun early.

See your doctor even if symptoms disappear

You should always see a doctor if you have any signs and symptoms of infection. The absence of those indicators doesn't mean that the disease has disappeared! Untreated, Lyme can spread to other parts of your body for months or even years after being bitten. Ticks may also carry illnesses such as babesiosis and Colorado tick fever


The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid going to areas where deer ticks live. It is best to avoid wooded, bushy areas with long grass. some simple precautions can help you decrease your risk of getting Lyme disease.
  • Cover Up.When in wooded or grassy areas, wear shoes (a must!), long pants tucked into your socks and a shirt with sleeves. Try to stick to trails if possible; avoid walking through low bushes/long grass for safety's sake! Keep your dog on a leash too - just like humans dog's need protection when exploring new territory.
  • Use insect repellents. Apply insect repellent with a 20% or higher concentration of DEET to your skin. Parents should apply repellent to their children, avoiding their hands, eyes, and mouth.
    Always remember that chemical repellents are toxic, so follow directions carefully. Apply products with permethrin to clothing or buy pretreated clothing.
  • Do your best to tick-proof your yard. Clear away leaves and brush where ticks commonly live. Mow your lawn regularly. Stack wood neatly in dry, sunny areas to discourage rodents that carry ticks.
  • Check your clothing, yourself, your children, and your pets for ticks. Be especially careful after hiking or playing in wooded or grassy areas. Deer ticks are often no bigger than the head of a pin, so you might not discover them unless you actually look for them. Try to take a shower as soon as you come inside. Ticks can remain on your skin for several hours before attaching themselves. Using a washcloth might remove unattached ticks.
  • Don't assume you're immune. You can get Lyme disease more than once.
  • Remove a tick as soon as possible with tweezers. Gently grasp the tick near its head or mouth. Don't squeeze or crush the tick, but pull carefully and steadily. Once you've removed the entire tick, dispose of it by putting it in alcohol or flushing it down the toilet, and apply antiseptic to the bite area.
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Lyme disease treatment
With so many options for treatment, it's hard to know what will work best..
Early-stage Lyme disease can be treated with a ten- or fourteen-day course of oral antibiotics that get rid of the infection  but may harm your immune system. Try adding a probiotic to your daily routine.  Quickly stopping the infection may prevent it from recurring more seriously later on, replenishing the flora in your digestive system will help boost your immunity.  
 Some doctors may use intravenous (IV) medications such as ceftriaxone when their patients have cardiac involvement or central nervous system symptoms like meningitis--those treatments require close follow up though since they only last about 3 days tops! The doctor may follow up with some oral antibiotics too. 
Lyme arthritis is a late-stage symptom of Lyme disease that is again treated with antibiotics for about 28 days. 

Lyme disease Syndrome

The incidence of post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS) is not fully understood. But recent research suggests that 10 to 20% of people who get treated for Lyme disease continue experiencing symptoms, and it can affect your mobility skills or cognitive abilities in some cases; while most recover after months or years though!


Post-Lyme disease symptoms

The symptoms of post Lyme disease syndrome are similar to those that occur in the earlier stages.
These symptoms may include:
  • fatigue
  • difficulty sleeping
  • aching joints or muscles
  • pain or swelling in your large joints, such as your knees, shoulders, or elbows
  • difficulty concentrating and short-term memory problems
  • speech problems
Is Lyme disease contagious?
There is no evidence that it can be spread from person to person. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant women cannot transmit this infection through breast milk and you cannot be infected by kissing someone who has been infected. There is no proof of sexual transmission or infection from a blood transfusion – meaning you may not pass on your condition if you have had positive tests after being bitten by a tick!
Doctor with arms crossed holding a stethoscope.

Lyme disease transmission
Lyme disease is a serious illness that can be transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. The bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, needs to attach for at least 36 hours before it’s effective in transmitting this bacteria so if you notice any erythema (redness) or scabbing around a possible tick bite make sure to see the doctor.  Hard to see areas like armpits and groins are likely spots for ticks to bite.

A lot of people are not aware that the bacteria can be passed on even when you remove an infected tick. The nymphs or immature ticks carry this infection and they're hard to see and so people don’t remove them quickly enough.  Adult ticks are much larger and easier to see and can be removed before the infection is transmitted. 

Living with Lyme disease
After you’ve been treated for Lyme disease with antibiotics, it may take weeks or months for all the symptoms to disappear.
You can take these steps to help promote your recovery:

  • Eat healthy foods and avoid foods that contain a large amount of sugar.
  • Get lots of rest.
  • Try to reduce stress.
  • Take an anti-inflammatory medication when necessary to ease pain and discomfort.

Test tick for Lyme disease

Some commercial laboratories will test ticks for Lyme disease.
Although you may want to have a tick tested after it bites you, the (CDC) doesn’t recommend testing for the following reasons:
  • The quality control standards for commercial tick testing are much less rigorous than those of clinical laboratories.
  • Tick tests can be misleading. The presence of a disease-causing organism does not mean you have Lyme disease, for example!
  • Negative results - could lead you to the false assumption that you are not infected when in reality there's another tick bite or possibly even two different ones!
  • If you’ve been infected with Lyme disease, and your symptoms are showing before the test results come back then don't wait to start treatment.
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How do you know if you've been bitten?

It can be hard to tell if you've been bitten because ticks are so small. If there's a red spot on your skin that looks like a mosquito bite and goes away within two days, then it’s not likely due to Lyme disease unless the area around this bump seems darker in color than usual  (like inflammation). A rash shaped similarly as a bulls-eye warns doctors about possible tick bites—just make sure these symptoms don't disappear before popping in to see your doc! Lastly, allergic reactions happen fast: people will notice themselves scratching at their ankle after coming back inside from going out near wooded areas where ticks live...


What Do You Do If There's a Tick Under Your Skin?

Use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to remove it as soon as possible. Pull upward with steady pressure. If parts of the tick are still in your skin, try to get those with the tweezers, too. After everything is out, clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
You probably won’t get infected if you remove the tick within 36 to 48 hours.

What Do You Do If There's a Tick Under Your Skin?
Use fine-tipped tweezers to gently grab hold of parts in your skin where the tick is stuck, and pull upwards with steady pressure until all pieces come out easily; then wash away any remaining fluid that may be leaking from the bitten area with soap and water. The likelihood of infection decreases greatly when these pests are removed within 36 - 48 hours after initial contact has occurred.

How do you throw away a tick?
Put it in soapy water or alcohol, stick it to a piece of tape, or flush it down the toilet.

Bottom line
If you suspect any of the Lyme disease symptoms, be sure to visit your doctor as soon as possible.

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