Lyme’s disease is acquired from the deer ticks which act as its host. The main cause, though, is a bacteria of the Borrelia type that is found in the tick saliva, and then transferred to humans whenever the tick bites.
How do you contract Lyme disease?
Deer ticks come in contact with humans in the outdoors especially when taking a walk or camping in the woods. The tick crawls up the human body and finally takes a bite in the skin where it attaches itself for hours and even days. It’s a pretty small organism and the bite is painless and can go unnoticed for a while, which makes it possible for the tick to be attached for extended periods of time.
The bacteria require at least 24 hours to be attached to the human body, during which it enters through the human skin into the bloodstream. It establishes a safe environment for itself on the skin and begins to multiply causing the initial symptoms of Lyme disease.
Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease in the early stage
At this time, the bacterial infection is only localized in the skin, and this acts as the base where the bacteria are established by multiplying. The classic signs and symptoms of the infection at this stage is the bull’s eye rash which appears as a small red circle at the center of a larger red ring. This rash is medically known as erythema chronicum migrans.
It begins as a huge circular rash of around 15 cm a few days after the deer tick bite. After about a week or two, the innermost part remains dark, as well as the outermost ring, leaving the area between clear to form a bull’s eye.
Erythema chronicum migrans is usually painless, although it may be a bit warm due to the action of your body’s antibodies. The intensity of the redness may vary based on the skin tone, but the bull’s eye is usually very visible.
However, the formation of erythema chronicum migrans occurs only in 70% to 80% of infected cases, and the rest won’t have this symptom. Even then, Lyme’s disease can still advance into the later stages even though the initial erythema was not present. In fact, an absence of this erythema only causes the identification of Lyme’s disease a lot more difficult and in its later stages when the bacteria has spread on the other body parts and has affected different body organs through the bloodstream.
Erythema is a symptom of Borrelia burgdorferi commonly found in North America, while in Europe and Asia, where Borrelia afzelii and garinii are present, different symptoms may appear. For example, Borrelial lymphocytoma may be present, which is a purplish painless pimple.
Besides the classic bull’s eye rash, there are other signs and symptoms of Lyme disease. Some of these resemble flu-like symptoms such as a headache, fever, muscle soreness, and malaise.
Later stages of Lyme disease
During its early stages, Lyme disease bacteria were simply multiplying and gaining in numbers. A few weeks later, the disease will begin to spread to other regions of the body, infecting more organs and causing more severe signs and symptoms.