From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention site:
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosedbased on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks. Laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. Steps to preventLyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases as well.
Here is a list of the early signs of Lyme disease (Again, from CDC):
Early Signs and Symptoms (3 to 30 days after tick bite)
- Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes
- Erythema migrans (EM) rash:
- Occurs in approximately 70 to 80 percent of infected persons
- Begins at the site of a tick bite after a delay of 3 to 30 days (average is about 7 days)
- Expands gradually over a period of days reaching up to 12 inches or more (30 cm) across
- May feel warm to the touch but is rarely itchy or painful
- Sometimes clears as it enlarges, resulting in a target or “bull’s-eye” appearance
- May appear on any area of the body
These are the symptoms I had. I thought I had the flu until I noticed the rash. I am glad I did get that rash because I had no memory of being bitten, The rash got me to the urgent care — in truth, not because I was so worried about Lyme disease so much as I imagined the tick having burrowed under my skin, which freaked me out. My symptoms and the rash were enough to prompt the doctor to put me right on a course of doxycycline hyclate.
I am grateful that I did get prompt treatment.
These are symptoms I did not have and don’t expect to have (but I won’t be complacent about it) due to prompt treatment:
Later Signs and Symptoms (days to months after tick bite)
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes on other areas of the body
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints.
- Facial palsy (loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face)
- Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- Heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat (Lyme carditis)
- Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
- Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
- Nerve pain
- Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
- Problems with short-term memory
It’s nasty and a growing problem here in Vermont.
Thanks Global Warming. (That’s one theory as to why the tick population has exploded here.)