Lime’s, Lime, or Lyme Disease?
Lyme, Connecticut is a small, quiet town roughly 4 miles from the Atlantic Coast with a population of roughly 2,500 people. This is the town for which “Lyme” Disease got its name. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by Borrelia Burgdorferi. This bacterium is carried by a specific type of tick from the genus Ixodes. This tick has three stages of its life; larva, nymph, and adult. It is most common for ticks to transmit Lyme disease while they are in the nymph stage. At this stage, ticks are roughly the size of a poppy seed, making them extremely difficult to find! For a tick to actually transmit the bacteria into your body, it is hypothesized that the tick has to be attached, or biting you for at least 24-48 hours.
Lyme disease is nicknamed “The Great Imitator” in the medical field. It can present clinically in numerous different manners and can be different for each individual who is infected. A skin rash known as “Erythema Migrans” is the typical Bullseye pattern rash that can appear in roughly 80% of cases of Lyme Disease. This is commonly an asymptomatic rash that can appear anywhere on the body, not always at the site of the tick bite. Arthritis, facial drooping, fever, fatigue, carditis, meningitis, and body aches are a few of the other commonly associated symptoms with Lyme Disease.
If suspected, Lyme Disease can be confirmed by a simple laboratory blood test. The ELISA and Western Blot method are commonly used to identify antibodies to the bacteria in a patient’s blood. This test can typically pick up antibodies roughly 2-4 weeks after initial infection but sometimes can take as long as 6-8 weeks to become positive. Treatment of Lyme Disease consists of an oral antibiotic that is typically taken for 14-28 days which is highly effective at clearing the infection. There is currently no vaccine for humans in the United States for Lyme Disease. Prevention with insect repellents, light colored clothes, and meticulous checking for ticks is imperative to identifying the tick prior to transmission.
Living in Pennsylvania, we are at high risk for Lyme Disease in the summer and fall months. It is important to identify Lyme Disease as early as possible in order to prevent long term sequala. If you are concerned or think you have Lyme Disease, schedule an appointment with Charlie Capaci, PA-C in our Lansdale, PA or Fort Washington, PA office locations.