Encyclopedia

Lyme disease

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease or Lyme disease is a bacterial disease in which people become infected when bitten by ticks that carry several species of bacteria in the genus Borrelia . In Eurasia, in most cases, the causative agent of the disease is Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii.

Fortunately, Lyme disease develops in less than 5% of tick bite cases.

What are the symptoms?

Initially, the infection goes unnoticed and the affected person has very mild complaints or none at all. But most people develop initial flu-like symptoms or a characteristic rash within a few days to a few weeks after the tick bite.

Flu-like symptoms usually occur during the summer months when there is usually no seasonal flu. The rash is red in color, affecting more and more skin areas with each passing day and is called erythema migrans.

Medical professionals define a rash as a skin lesion that begins usually as a red spot and expands over a period of several days to several weeks to form a large skin lesion at least 5 cm in size. And the red a round spot that appears a few hours after the bite is smaller and represents a skin reaction to the penetration of the tick into the skin.

When a rash appears at the site of the bite, it is called a primary lesion. A few secondary lesions may appear that are in response to infection and are not due to new tick bites. All of these lesions can increase in size and cover an area of ​​skin the size of a football.

This growth is characteristic of Lyme disease. The shape of the lesion can be round or oval. As the rash grows, its coloring remains red, although in most cases the skin in its center lightens.

If treatment is not initiated, the symptoms of the primary disease resolve within a few weeks, although the rash may recur.

Subsequently, additional clinical manifestations may occur. Later involvement of some organs can lead to the following conditions:

• Facial palsy is paralysis of the facial nerve, which causes a distortion of the face.

• Meningitis causes headache, high fever and stiff neck;

• Inflammation of the nerves leading to pain, stiffness and numbness in the hands or feet;

• Inflammation of the gray matter of the brain /encephalitis/ leads to difficulties in the perception of information, confusion and dementia;

• Inflammation of the heart /carditis/ ;

When should we seek medical attention?

Seek immediate medical attention if you live in an area or visit a place where Lyme disease is common and feel that you have seasonal flu-like symptoms, or if you develop a rash the size of a soccer ball at any time from late spring to early fall. Timely treatment at this early stage of the disease prevents the risk of complications.

Remove any tick you see on your skin immediately, being careful not to leave its jaws in your skin when pulling out. If you cannot remove the attached tick, contact your doctor and make an appointment as soon as possible so that it can be removed.

After removing a tick, you should seek medical attention if flu-like symptoms or a rash appear in the next 3 weeks or so. If you can’t tell if the rash is growing, draw a line around it with non-washable ink, such as a marker or felt-tip pen, and observe each day whether it increases in size.

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