Lyme dis­ease can be eas­ily pre­vented

Bray People - - LIFESTYLE - DR MICHELLE COOPER’S

LYME dis­ease is an in­fec­tion with a bac­te­ria which is trans­mit­ted by an in­fected tick. A course of an­tibi­otics will usu­ally clear the in­fec­tion.

The bac­te­ria which causes Lyme dis­ease is called Bor­re­lia and is passed to hu­mans from in­fected ticks. The con­di­tion was named af­ter a town in the US called Old Lyme, where, in 1975, there was an out­break of arthri­tis in young chil­dren which was found to be due to this in­fec­tion. This was the first time that this bac­terium was proved to be the cause of a med­i­cal con­di­tion.

Lyme dis­ease has been re­ported in North Amer­ica, Europe, Aus­tralia, China and Ja­pan. In­fected ticks are most likely to be en­coun­tered in heath land and lightly forested ar­eas of North Amer­ica and North­ern Europe. Sero­preva­lence stud­ies re­port the Repub­lic of Ire­land as hav­ing one of the high­est rates of Lyme dis­ease in Europe.

SYMP­TOMS

The symp­toms of Lyme Dis­ease can be di­vided into three stages:

- Stage One – within weeks of sus­tain­ing a bite from an in­fected tick, a red cir­cle which re­sem­bles a Bull’s eye tar­get may ap­pear. A flu like ill­ness may also oc­cur, in the early stage of the dis­ease.

- Stage Two – oth­er­wise known as dis­sem­i­nated dis­ease, symp­toms may in­clude mi­gra­tory joint pain, head and neck pain, sore throat, swollen glands and se­vere fa­tigue.

- Stage Three – symp­toms for late stage Lyme dis­ease may in­clude numb­ness, tremors and tin­gling. Nerve pain, poor tem­per­a­ture con­trol, brain fog and dis­turbed sleep pat­terns are com­mon. Com­pli­ca­tions in­clude de­pres­sion, panic at­tacks, mus­cle weak­ness, tis­sue dam­age, menin­gi­tis and chronic arthri­tis.

DI­AG­NO­SIS

In most cases the di­ag­no­sis is made at stage one of the dis­ease when a pa­tient presents with a typ­i­cal rash, some­times also with flu-like symp­toms fol­low­ing a tick bite. Blood tests are help­ful in di­ag­nos­ing the dis­ease if it is sus­pected from symp­toms at stages two or three.

TREAT­MENT

A course of an­tibi­otics will usu­ally clear the in­fec­tion re­sult­ing in a com­plete cure with­out fur­ther prob­lems in most cases. The type of an­tibi­otics as well as the du­ra­tion of treat­ment will de­pend on in­di­vid­ual cir­cum­stances.

PRO­TECT­ING YOUR­SELF

Pre­ven­tion is al­ways bet­ter than cure. Ticks pre­fer ar­eas of dense veg­e­ta­tion, fallen leaves and tall grasses. To avoid th­ese ar­eas, stick to foot­paths when out walk­ing and tuck trousers into socks. Clothes with shiny sur­faces help pre­vent ticks from cling­ing on. A re­pel­lent con­tain­ing DEET can be used to help re­pel ticks.

Af­ter walk­ing it is im­por­tant that you check your­self and your fam­ily mem­bers, es­pe­cially chil­dren, re­mem­ber­ing to check tucked away places such as be­hind the ears, in the hair and in the groin.

The bac­te­ria which causes Lyme dis­ease is called Bor­re­lia and is passed to hu­mans from in­fected ticks.

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