Lyme disease
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What Is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is an infectious disease, which is caused by three species of the bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. This disease is usually transmitted to humans by ticks which live in the bodies of the carrier deer, sheep, mice, hedgehogs, pheasants, hamsters and squirrels. When these ticks carrying the bacteria bite someone, it results in the forming of a typical lump, which is flowed by a scab on the skin.

Symptoms of Lyme disease

The symptoms of the bite and subsequent transfer of the bacteria will start appearing in between two days to four weeks. An expanding, circular red rash will start appearing on the skin, accompanied by symptoms like tiredness, headache, joint pains and flu-like symptoms. In case of lack of treatment, chronic form of Lyme disease will appear. Then will follow the symptoms associated with the chronic Lyme, like joint pain and swelling (arthritis), nervous system problems (such as poor concentration, memory loss), chronic fatigue, muscle pains, musculoskeletal, arthritic, neurologic, psychiatric and cardiac manifestations, heart block and palpitations.

Altered mental status has also been reported in some cases. Other acute symptoms which appear in extreme cases of Lyme disease are a wide-range of neurological disorders, either central or peripheral, including encephalitis or encephalomyelitis, muscle twitching, polyneuropathy or paresthesia, and vestibular symptoms or other otolaryngologic symptoms. Neuropsychiatric disturbances may also occur leading to memory loss, sleep disturbances or changes in mood or affect.

Who's affected by Lyme disease?

People exploring the woods might be at a high risk of acquiring the Lyme disease. People like farmers, gamekeepers and hunters, who are more in touch with the wildlife, are more often the ones to acquire it. Recently, cases of Lyme disease have been reported from the cities as well. Most common factor owing to this is the presence of animals like deer.

How To Avoid Lyme disease?

Take precautionary measures when camping or walking in the ticks-prone areas. Wear long sleeved shirts and trousers, tuck trousers into socks, wearing light-colored clothing will make it easier to see the ticks, try avoiding sitting on the ground in areas of vegetation, keep to pathways, check for ticks regularly during the day and especially before going to bed, remove any ticks found attached to the skin straight away. These days a new vaccine has also been developed using outer surface protein C (Osp-C) and glycolipoprotein to avoid the infection from the ticks.

Lyme disease Diagnosis

Diagnosis of the Lyme disease is completely based on clinical exam findings. Serological testing can be performed to confirm the presence of the Lyme disease. Advanced imaging studies like SPECT and PET can be employed in order to provide evidence for the brain malfunction. Neuropsychological testing can also be used, but its results are not very satisfactory and thus cannot be depended upon.

Lyme disease Treatment

When the infection of the Lyme disease is confirmed, one can start the treatment by treating it with antibiotics and symptom-based medication. Inability to diagnose and late treatment may lead to the acute stage of the Lyme disease making it all the more difficult to treat. Though antibiotics can work in most of the cases, the administering of antibiotics and their dosage will depend from case to case.

These days antibiotics like doxycycline (in adults), amoxicillin (in children) and ceftriaxone are commonly used. Other alternative for these are cefuroxime, cefotaxime, Macrolide antibiotics etc. antibiotics which work by acting on the wall of the bacteria are also quite effective in their treatment, though these lose their effectiveness after multiple relapses.

Antibiotic treatment is the backbone of fighting against the Lyme disease. However, there are times when the patient does not respond to these antibiotics. Such cases can be treated by hydroxychloroquine or methotrexate. Such patients are also known to respond well to gabapentin monotherapy with residual pain after intravenous ceftriaxone treatment in a pilot study.

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