Outdoor fun this summer means possibly coming in contact with ticks, and that leaves you at a risk for Lyme disease. The CDC estimates that over 300,000 people in the U.S. are infected each year.
What is Lyme disease?
It is a tick-born infection from the bite of an infected blacklegged tick. It is caused by a type of bacterium called a spirochete that is carried by deer ticks. Nymphal or immature ticks are so small many people do not even realize they have been bitten because their bite is painless. Adults can carry the disease also.
Once attached, if left undisturbed, it may feed for several days. Untreated, the bacterium can travel through the bloodstream into various body tissues and cause a number of symptoms.
Early Symptoms – 3-30 days after bite cdc.gov
- Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes
- Occurs in 70-80% of infected people
- Begins at site of bite within 3-30 days
- Expand gradually over a period of days reaching up to 12 inches or more across
- May feel warm to touch, rarely itchy or painful
- Clears as it enlarges, “bull’s eye” appearance
- May appear anywhere on body
Later Symptoms – days to months after bite cdc.gov
- Severe headaches, stiff neck
- Additional rashes on other areas of body
- Arthritis with severe joint pain, swelling; particularly knees and other large joints
- Facial palsy (face droops)
- Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints and bones
- Heart palpitations or irregular heart beat
- Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
- Inflammation of brain and spinal cord
- Nerve pain
- Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling of hands and feet
- Problems with short-term memory