Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that spreads through the bite of certain ticks. The disease got its name from the town of Lyme in Connecticut where several children were diagnosed with this infection. The disease is caused by the spirochete bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi. The ticks that harbor these bacteria are usually found in animals including mice, moles, shrews, chipmunks, squirrels and deer which are infected with the microorganism. The infected tick then passes on the bacteria to human beings.
The disease occurs in three stages:
- Stage 1 – Also known as localized Lyme disease, this stage represents the initial stages of infection and is not widespread throughout the body.
- Stage 2 – Or early disseminated Lyme disease is characterized by the beginning of spreading of infection to other parts of the body.
- Stage 3 – Known as late disseminated Lyme disease, in this stage the bacteria have successfully spread throughout the body.
The early stage of localized Lyme disease is characterized by symptoms like:
- Fever and chills
- Enlargement of lymph nodes
- Excessive fatigue
- Stiff neck
- Joint pain
As the disease progresses without any treatment, the bacteria starts spreading to different parts of the body. After few weeks after the initial infestation, the disease enters the stage 2 characterized by:
- Neurological conditions including meningitis, paralysis and weakness of limbs
- Lack of concentration and memory
- Pain and swelling in joints, with knees being the most affected
- Palpitations, dizziness and shortness of breath which persists for more than a few days
As months and years pass by after the initial infection, the disease enters stage 3. The most common symptoms of this disease include:
- Weakness of muscles
- Numbness and tingling sensation in hands and legs
- Problems in speech
- Anxiety and depression
Some of the less common symptoms of this disease include:
- Inflammation of eyes
- Severe fatigue
One should meet the physician if bitten by a tick and have the common symptoms of Lyme disease. This is particularly important for people living in those areas where the disease is prevalent. Treatment if started at an early stage gives a good prognosis. It is important to meet the doctor if the symptoms disappear after some time. If left untreated, the infection may lead to a number of complications.
- If you have been bitten by a tick, seek medical attention immediately.