Lyme DiseaseWhat is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease (LD) is a bacterial infection caused by infected ticks, usually by a deer tick bite. The disease is spread to humans from contact with the tick; it is not spread from one human to another. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the incidence of LD continues to rise and now accounts for more than 95 percent of all insect-borne illness in the US. Since 1982, a total of more than 128,000 cases of the disease were reported. The disease takes its name from Lyme, Connecticut, where the illness was first identified in the United States in 1975.
Depending on the location, anywhere from less than 1 percent to more than 90 percent of the ticks are infected with spirochetes (bacteria that are usually carried by the tick).
Lyme disease is a year round problem, although April through October is considered tick season. More than 16,000 infections are reported each year in the United States. The majority (92 percent) of cases are reported in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin.
|Many cases have also been identified in large areas of Asia and Europe.|
What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
|The list of possible symptoms for Lyme disease is non-specific, and symptoms can affect every part of the body. Symptoms usually appear within two to 21 days. The following are the most common symptoms of LD. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. |
One of the primary symptoms is often a rash that can be pink in the center and a deeper red on the surrounding skin, but can vary in appearance. The rash:
|Several days or weeks after a bite from an infected tick, flu-like symptoms can appear, including the following: |
|After several months, painful and swollen joints may occur. |
Other possible symptoms may include the following:
|Symptoms of LD may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.|
How is Lyme disease diagnosed?
LD may be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms may resemble other conditions. The primary symptom is a rash, but it may not be present in up to 25 percent of cases. Diagnosis is usually based on symptoms and a history of a tick bite.
Diagnosis of Lyme disease must be made by an experienced physician. Blood and laboratory tests may be performed to rule out other conditions.
Research is underway to develop and improve methods for diagnosing LD.
Treatment for Lyme disease:
Your child's physician will determine the best treatment plan based on your child's individual situation. Lyme disease is usually treated with antibiotics.
Treatment will be considered based on these and other factors:
How can Lyme disease be prevented?
|Humans do not develop an immunity to LD and re-infection is possible. In 1998 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new vaccine against Lyme disease called LYMErix. The vaccine is not 100 percent effective, however, and the FDA recommends still using other preventive measures. In 2002, the manufacturer of LYMErix announced that the vaccine would no longer be available commercially. Some general guidelines for preventing LD include the following: |
Another tick-borne disease: babesiosis
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