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 What is Lyme Disease?

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PostSubject: What is Lyme Disease?   Fri Jun 11, 2010 7:21 pm

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Lyme Disease FAQ



1 What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. The disease is classified by the World Health Organisation as an infectious or parasitic disease. Borrelia burgdorferi belongs to the bacterial genus ‘Borrelia’. These in turn are members of a larger family of bacteria called Spirochaetes.


2 How does Lyme disease infection occur?

In nearly all cases it is transmitted to humans by the bite of a tick infected with these bacteria. In a population of ticks, only some will carry the infection.


3 What is Borreliosis?

The disease resulting from infection with Borrelia burgdorferi is referred to as Lyme disease or Lyme borreliosis. There are many species of Borrelia bacteria worldwide, not all of them cause disease. Three species are currently known to cause disease in the UK. They are Borrelia burgdorferi (sensu stricto), Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii. They are very closely related and all cause a broadly similar disease process. An infection caused by Borrelia bacteria can be termed a ‘Borreliosis.’


4 How does Lyme disease start?

A clinical case of Lyme disease occurs when a person is infected by a tick bite. Symptoms follow after an incubation period that may last between two and thirty days. However, on some occasions, the bacteria do not cause disease straight away. The bacteria can enter a phase in which they do not cause symptoms but are still present. They may still have the potential to cause active disease at a later stage.


5 What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Lyme disease can affect any part of the body and cause many different symptoms. The commonest symptoms relate to the person feeling unwell, having flu-like symptoms, extreme tiredness, muscle pain, muscle weakness, joint pain, upset digestive system, headache, disturbances of the central nervous system and a poor sleep pattern. In some cases a characteristically shaped, expanding ‘bull’s eye’ rash appears on the skin. However, a rash in any form is not a universal symptom. If the rash does occur, it is termed Erythema migrans or EM rash. It may manifest in a chronic form and be known as Erythema chronicum migrans or ECM rash. The list of symptoms known to be associated with Lyme disease is long and diverse. The symptom pattern varies from person to person.


6 What are the commonest symptoms at onset?

Early symptoms can include feeling unwell or ‘flu-like’, EM rash, headache, stiff neck, muscle pain, tender glands and sensitivity to temperature, sound and light levels.


7 How prevalent is Lyme disease in the UK?

The number of cases confirmed by blood testing has risen from 292 in 2003 to 768 in 2006. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) acknowledges that confirmed cases do not necessarily reflect all the cases of the disease. HPA official estimates suggest there could be up to 3,000 new cases occurring in the UK every year. The true number of cases is not known, and may be higher still. Since full recovery may not take place in many cases, the total number of people affected is accumulating.


8 Who gets Lyme disease and Why?

In the United Kingdom, Lyme disease is carried by the sheep tick, Ixodes ricinus. This tick can also feed on deer and other wild mammals and birds. The tick prefers to live in woods, heath and moorland, although it does not occur exclusively in these habitats. People who live in the parts of the country where the tick is prevalent are likely to be at greater risk. However, cases of the disease are widespread and it is possible that the full picture of tick distribution is not yet fully understood. Anyone can get Lyme disease if a tick that is carrying the infection has bitten them.


9 What is the treatment for Lyme disease?

The outlook varies from person to person. Whilst it is extremely unusual for the illness to be fatal, symptoms can range from mild to very severe. It is not in a patient’s best interests for the disease to remain untreated. Treatment is with antibiotics and is most effective if started as early as possible in the disease. The patient may be clinically cured if treated promptly. There is growing scientific and anecdotal evidence that suggest long term treatment may be necessary in some cases. Treatment regimes are aimed at reduction and elimination of the bacteria. If there is delay before treatment is begun, there may be less chance of a full recovery.


10 Is Lyme disease a New Illness?

Studies of the DNA taken from ticks in the Natural History Museum show the infection was in the UK in Victorian times. Therefore, it is almost certainly not a new illness. However, it does appear to be becoming more common.

11 Is there a test for Lyme disease?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that the diagnosis of Lyme disease is based on symptoms, physical findings and the patient’s history. There are several laboratory tests that aim to detect this infection, however, none of them are absolutely reliable. If positive they support the diagnosis.


12 Do other diseases accompany Lyme disease?

Several other infections can sometimes be found in tick secretions. If these are also passed into the bloodstream, they too may establish and complicate the symptoms and outlook.


13 Will my doctor treat me for Lyme disease?

If you have this diagnosis your doctor should treat you. However, many doctors are not familiar with treating Lyme patients. In this case, you may do better to see a doctor who is familiar with the disease. Always try to keep your GP involved and informed. A worsening of symptoms called a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction may complicate the start of treatment. This does not occur in every case but if it should occur further medical advice should be taken. Lyme disease is an infectious disease and the primary aim of treatment is eliminating the infection by the use of antibiotics. Other medicines may also have a place in treatment. Response to treatment varies from patient to patient.


14 Can Lyme disease be prevented?

There are many measures you can take to protect yourself from ever falling victim to this nasty infection. There is however, no vaccine available at present. Prevention relies on people being aware of the risk that ticks present and using sensible measures to avoid being bitten. These measures include wearing suitable clothing and frequently checking the skin for ticks. It is also essential to know how to remove a tick properly if it is still present and to go promptly for medical advice if you notice any symptoms. Lyme disease Action publishes a leaflet about tick removal.


15 How do I know if I’ve got Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is not an easy diagnosis to make. This is especially so if the patient has no rash and does not recall an episode of tick bite. If a patient remembers a tick bite and then becomes unwell, Lyme disease is a possibility. There is no diagnostic test that is absolutely reliable in confirming a case of Lyme disease. Negative test results therefore, do not necessarily mean it is absent. After all exclusionary tests have been done; the diagnosis can be made on clinical grounds alone.


16 Does Lyme disease affect mental functioning?

Like some other diseases caused by spirochaetes, there is a possibility that the infection can cross into the central nervous system. If the infection proceeds along this course then symptoms that affect mental function may occur. If the illness proceeds to this neurological stage, it is termed neuroborreliosis. This serious condition needs skilled treatment.


Lyme Disease Action, Registered Charity Number 1100448, Registered Company Number 4839410

For more information please click the following link: Lyme Disease Action



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PostSubject: Re: What is Lyme Disease?   Thu Jul 01, 2010 12:17 am

Can be a big problem up here, i know a lot of estate workers, keepers and ghillies who have had this. We are infested with ticks up here - due to all the deer and sheep. There are a number of ways to get the tick off but you have to make sure you get the head out.

I have found by dosing the tick in tea tree oil is effective. It is an antisceptic too which helps. The oil stopd the tick from breathing and after half an hour it shrivels and can be removed with tweezers.
This stuff is good for dogs too especially if you want to see them breakdance LOL

Everything up here bites you, the highland midge is the worst. Sometimes you think it is misty and then you realise it is clouds of the little bleeders. They are impossible. Nothing works - there are many so called remedies ie Avon skin so soft etc but believe me Nothing works. We can't sit outside in the summer because of them. Add to that i am allergic to them.
We also have 6 species of cleg fly, these really hurt.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Lyme Disease?   Sun Jul 04, 2010 11:44 pm

Ticks, UGH Rolling Eyes

I have had a lot of tick bites over the years, mainly in Ireland, where the sheep are not dipped. Tea tree oil is a good idea Chris, but vaseline works extremely well and many people are likely to have a pot of that to keep the old kisser in good working order Very Happy

I would strongly advise anyone in a tick infested area to examine themselves thoroughly before or after a bath or shower - remember that the little horrors can stay alive and crawling on your clothes. They tend to head for the softest parts of the anatomy (underarms and groin being favs!) - my Dad once got one on his unmentionable..and mum had to remove it with tweezers..he said he was glad that he knew she loved him Laughing

Remember, ticks unscrew anticlockwise!

With regard to pets, well, most flea treatments are also effective against ticks. Muppet, my dog, has had several ticks attached to her, but the Frontline treatment kills them off, although they may stay attached and will need to be removed carefully.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Lyme Disease?   Sun Jul 04, 2010 11:56 pm

Funny you should mention the unmentionable as i had to remove one the other day!!! I did NOT use tea tree oil this time however. :face: pale affraid

I think any type of grease/oil will do it as i think they need to breathe through their skin as the head is embedded. Vital that the head is removed. You can get a sort of hook device which is designed to remove them.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Lyme Disease?   Mon Jul 05, 2010 10:02 am

Shocked You didn't remove the "unmentionable" I hope! Laughing

When I did my degree, my final year dissertation was about TICKS .. and Lyme disease. I had to collect some of the horrors in a jar to confirm their i.d. - anyway, I found that they had escaped and then I could not sleep for fear that they were crawling inexorably towards me..luckily, ticks need damp atmospheres to survive so I think they all dehydrated in the carpet before they reached my flesh! Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: What is Lyme Disease?   Mon Jul 05, 2010 2:32 pm

We have a lot up here, when i am eeling, i get covered in really tiny ones, i didn't realise there were so many different types. We get some that are quite large with a red spot on the abdomen, i would be interested in any info on ticks as i seem to be their preferred host...unfortunately
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