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Lyme disease: symptoms, causes and treatment

Lyme disease: symptoms, causes and treatment

April 2, 2024

There are a lot of diseases that can affect us to a greater or lesser extent. Many of them are caused by bacterial or viral infections, infections that can appear for different reasons. Some of them are caused by bites or bites from other living beings, such as insects. It's what happens with Lyme disease , of which we are going to talk throughout this article.

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Lyme disease: basic symptoms

Relatively frequent in the northern hemisphere, Lyme disease is an infectious disease transmitted by the bite of some species of ticks. Is about a disease of bacterial origin , which can evolve through various stages. We are also before an old acquaintance of humanity: there are vestiges of its existence even in prehistory, although the first cases documented as such are from the last century.

This alteration can appear at any age and in any sex, and these variables are not decisive at the time or not of getting sick. Generally there is more probability of appearance in those people who are frequently outdoors in areas where the habitual guests of said ticks inhabit.

The most notorious symptoms of this disorder are the presence of an erythema in the area of ​​the sting , which can spread (it is usually called migratory erythema), along with typical flu symptoms. The presence of nausea, conjunctivitis, headache, fatigue and muscle stiffness are relatively frequent.

If the disease progresses Arthritis, loss of muscle tone, facial paralysis, tremors can come , increased tension, memory problems and even respiratory problems that could stop the function. It can also affect the brain in the form of neuroborreliosis, generating paralysis and meningitis, and even psychiatric symptoms such as hallucinations.

However, some people may develop an evolution of the disease to a chronic phase, especially if they have not been treated or detected early. Although some deaths derived from it have been described (for example by cardiorespiratory arrest), the death of the subject due to Lyme disease is not usual.

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The origin of this disease is found in the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi (in fact, Lyme disease is also known as borreliosis) which is introduced into the body by the bite of some species of ticks (although other insects could transmit it, as mosquitoes and fleas), very often transmitted by ticks of the genus Ixodes.

These ticks are common in rodents, horses and deer. The human being is not usually host of these beings, but an accidental exposure to these insects can generate a sting. Despite this, not all ticks of this genus transmit the bacteria previously mentioned, causing Lyme disease only those that are infected by it. Although this article mainly explores the disease and the symptoms caused in humans, it can also affect other animals and pets.

To get to transmit the bacteria and cause Lyme disease, it is estimated that the tick must adhere to the skin for between one and two days, although its small size can make it difficult to know how long it has been in the body to not be able to locate it. .

Lyme disease is not contagious among people : it is not contagious through physical contact, neither through breathing, nor through sexual contact. The sufferer can not transmit it unless a tick infected by the bacteria passes from its carrier to another. For example, if a dog suffers from the disease it will not infect its caregiver per se, although it may have attached ticks that could do so.

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Stages of the disease

As we have mentioned, Lyme disease can go through a series of stages in which different symptoms can appear and disappear. From the bite to the onset of symptoms can last weeks, although it is common for the latter to appear between a few days and a week post-bite. Specifically, the following phases are highlighted.

1. Localized early infection

In this stage the migratory erythema usually appears around the bite of the tick, which can cause itching and other skin sensations . In general, there are usually no more symptoms. Occasionally, discomfort and bluish lymphocytomas also appear in areas such as the ears.

two.Early disseminated infection

The bacterium has penetrated and spread through the body, being able to generate other skin lesions in areas different from that of the bite, together with fatigue and muscular pain. Some more serious symptoms can be the appearance of arrhythmias and cardiac alterations. It is at this stage when neurological problems tend to appear such as meningitis, paralysis or hallucinations.

3. Late infection

After several months of untreated infection, joint problems usually occur (in fact, one of the first names of this disease is Lyme arthritis) that can become permanent. Problems such as memory loss usually appear and alterations in the level of consciousness, and encephalitis could occur.


Generally, Lyme disease has an effective diagnosis and treatment that usually ends with the complete recovery of the patient.

The first element to consider is the possibility that the tick that has transmitted the bacteria or its stinger still remain in the body of the subject. A first step to follow is the removal of the organism's arachnid using hooks or tweezers, as well as disinfection of the area. If a bite is identified, it is recommended to observe the patient for at least one month to check whether or not there is symptomatology.

Later, different antibiotics will be applied according to the characteristics of the patient, the evolution of the disease and the symptoms. This treatment usually heals the disease over a period of several weeks, although residual symptoms may sometimes appear. In cases where this disease is chronic , it may be necessary to apply a more continuous antibiotic treatment program over time.

Analgesics can also be applied to combat possible muscle pain or other drugs to control fever and other symptoms that appear during the condition.

Bibliographic references:

  • Herrera, O .; Infante, J .; Ramírez, R. & Lavastida, H. (2012). Lyme disease: history, microbiology, epizootiology and epidemiology. Cuban Journal of Hygiene and Epidemiology, 50 (2). City of Havana, Cuba.
  • Dickinson, F.O. & Batlle, M.C. (1997). Lyme borreliosis: approach to an emerging infectious disease. Cuban Journal of Hygiene and Epidemiology, 35 (2). City of Havana, Cuba.

Lyme Disease: Mayo Clinic Radio (April 2024).

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