The Lyme disease is a disease caused by spirochetes, and tick – borne, usually starting from a characteristic skin lesion in a ring (erythema chronicum migrans). This phase may be followed by meningitis , neuritis, carditis, or arthritis in later phases.
Causes of Lyme disease
The microorganism that produces it is called Borrelia burgdorferi. This is a spirochete, and as such it has a helical shape and flagella, which allow three types of movements.
Borrelia Burgdorferi is transmitted to man by the bite of a tiny tick. These ticks parasitize various mammals and birds. It is widely distributed in humid areas from northern Europe to Spain.
After being injected through a tick bite, Borrelia can migrate to the outside of the skin producing chronic erythema migrans, or pass to other organs through the blood. Spirochetes have been found in blood, skin, cerebrospinal fluid, and joint fluid.
Lyme disease symptoms
Lyme disease has several phases, with remissions and exacerbations. “Phase 1” generally lasts several weeks; “phase 2” appears in the following months and “phase 3” occurs between months and years after the onset of infection.
After an incubation of 3 to 32 days, chronic migratory erythema appears at the site of the tick bite. It usually begins as a red lesion that expands to form a ring lesion, usually with a bright red border that fades in the center. The most frequent locations are the thighs, groin and armpits. The injury is hot but is usually painless. Sometimes it is accompanied by mild general symptoms; others spread through the blood to many sites, producing annular lesions in other regions of the skin.
It is characterized because neurological, cardiac and musculoskeletal alterations can appear.
- Neurological deficits: the most common is the appearance of meningitis, but encephalitis can also appear . The usual picture is fluctuating symptoms of meningitis accompanied by facial paralysis.
- Cardiac involvement: consists of the appearance of arrhythmias with alterations in the electrocardiogram, and even alterations in the function of the left ventricle. Cardiac involvement is usually short-lived, but tends to recur.
- Musculoskeletal disorders: the typical is the migratory nature of the pain in the joints, tendons, muscles or bones, generally without joint swelling.
From one week to two years after the onset of infection, approximately 80% of patients who have not received any antibiotics have joint symptoms that range from subjective joint pain to intermittent arthritis attacks, even with destruction of articular cartilage. The typical picture is intermittent attacks of arthritis in large joints, especially in the knees.
How is it diagnosed?
The diagnosis is evident when the patient remembers the tick bite, presents an annular skin lesion, and develops neurological, cardiac, or joint manifestations not attributable to another etiology.
However, only a low percentage of patients remember the tick bite. Chronic migratory erythema may appear atypically or may have disappeared when the patient seeks medical assistance, and the remaining symptoms and signs are nonspecific.
It is carried out by direct culture of the spirochete in special media. The spirochete can be seen in locations as diverse as skin, synovial fluid, spleen, kidney, or bone marrow.
It is carried out by detecting antibodies against B. burgdorferi in the patient’s serum.
Penicillins and tetracyclines (or, if both are contraindicated, macrolides) reduce or attenuate the formation of erythema migrans and prevent or attenuate subsequent complications.
The treatment of choice in early localized infection consists of the administration of tetracyclines.
When there are neurological, joint or cardiac complications, they usually respond to high doses of antibiotics.
How can I avoid it?
The disease can be prevented by avoiding tick bites. Since it is not always possible to avoid areas where ticks live, it is advisable to use repellants and appropriate clothing.
Prophylactic antibiotics may be indicated in patients who have suffered a tick bite.
It is advisable to consult a professional when the existence of a tick bite is suspected (remember that the habitat of this parasite is in humid areas of northern Europe and Spain), especially if lesions appear on the skin (although this is not the typical annular lesion).
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.