What Is Lyme Disease?
It is not uncommon for us to be bitten by insects and other small animals when we are out, especially in the summer. The bites can be quite irritating but they will usually do us no harm. Some bites, however, can be quite harmful to us, and some can even pose a direct threat to our lives.
One such condition is Lyme disease, which is found in many parts of the world. Lyme disease is potentially very serious and can even be fatal, although most patients will make a full recovery. Its potential seriousness means it is a good idea to know more about the disease, however, and some of the signs to look out for.
Lyme disease is transmitted to people through the bites of some very small animals: ticks. These are parasites that feed of the blood of people, and other animals, by biting through the skin to access the blood vessels just below. Most cases are transmitted by a particular type of tick: the deer tick, which is also known as the black legged tick.
Not all tick species spread the disease and, of those that do, not all individual ticks will be infected with the bacteria that causes the disease. Regardless, it makes sense to take necessary precautions if you are in an area where you are at risk of receiving tick bits.
The bacteria responsible, and passed on from tick bites, is in the borrelia family. Four members of this family are responsible for the disease, and these are borrelia burgdorferi, borrelia afzelii, borrelia garinii, and borrelia mayonii. Which type is responsible will depend largely on where in the world you live.
If you contract Lyme disease in Asia or Europe, it is likely that borrelia afzelii or borrelia garinii are responsible. If you contract it in the United States, however, then borrelia burgdorferi or borrelia mayonii are probably to blame. These bacteria are also spread by certain species of lice in some cases.
3. Red Bump
At first, the tick bite will be similar to a mosquito bite and they are often mistaken for just that. At other times, the tick will be found still attached to the host, in which case it is much clearer exactly what the cause of the bite is. If you do find the tick still in place, it will need to be removed using the correct procedure.
Take some fine tweezers and use them to grasp at the tick’s head, as close to the skin as you can. Then, gently pull the tick up and away from the skin, making sure not to squeeze it too tightly. Be sure to clean the skin with antiseptic at the site of the bite to prevent an infection occurring. In the vast majority of case, a tick bite will not mean you have contracted Lyme disease.
4. Erythema Migrans
The term erythema migrans translates from Latin into English as ‘migrating redness’. It is a term that explains the condition well, and the condition tends to arise anywhere from 3 to 30 days after the initial bite. The onset of the condition is marked when the red area around the bite begins to expand.
As the circumference of the red area beings to grow, a clear area will often form in the middle, forming a distinctive bullseye shape. In some cases, a red circle will remain in the center surrounded by a ring of clear skin, and then a ring of red skin. It is not usually itchy or painful but it can grow to be 30cm across in some cases.