Lyme disease is among the most prevalent tick-borne diseases in the U.S., especially in Fairfield and Westchester Counties, and while it is not necessarily the most dangerous of these diseases, it is a serious health threat that can be debilitating or even lead to death. The number of cases in the U.S. is actually growing at an alarming rate, and every state except Hawaii has had at least one case in recent years.
Please Note: We are not qualified to speak with any authority on medical matters. Please talk to your physician or local health department, or refer to the CDC for complete information about medical impacts and treatments.
- Lyme disease is transmitted in the U.S. by a variety of ticks of the genus Ixodes: the deer tick (Northeast and North-Central), the Western black-legged tick (Pacific Coast), and the black-legged tick (Southeast).
- Lyme disease was first discovered in Lyme, CT, in 1975.
- A corkscrew-shaped bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, of the spirochetes family, is the pathogen behind the disease.
- The disease can afflict other animals (dogs, for instance, which develop arthritic symptoms).
Diagnosis and Treatment
Lyme disease can be particularly hard to diagnose, especially since many people don’t show any symptoms or misidentify their symptoms, so be sure to tell your doctor if you have been — or even if you think you might have been — bitten by a tick. If you were able to preserve the tick, there are some states or health departments that offer services that assist with the identification and testing of ticks that have been removed from human hosts. In all cases, blood tests will be used to determine diagnosis.
Often, patients in the early stages of Lyme disease can recover rapidly after treatment with oral antibiotics over the course of a few weeks. However, Lyme disease is a chronic disease, meaning some patients will continue to have symptoms for months or years after infection. It’s also possible for the disease to re-emerge after a period of time. Other treatment guidelines that are developed by the Infectious Disease Society of America can be found on the organization’s website.
- Circular rash called erythema migrans
- Muscle and joint aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Bell’s palsy, a loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness due to meningitis
- Shooting pains
- Heart palpitations
- Pain moving from joint to joint
- Bouts of arthritis, with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly in the knees and large joints.
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Problems concentrating
- Short-term memory loss