What is Lyme Disease, Symptoms, Prevention
Lyme disease can infect many animals, such as dogs, cats, horses, and people. It is spread by certain tick species, and is considered a relatively new disease. It is often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all, and is still somewhat understood in the medical field, with people accused of faking it, or exaggerating their symptoms.
How Lyme Disease Spreads
Although ticks are blamed for causing Lyme disease, it is actually a bacteria, or rather one of three types of bacteria of the Borrelia species. The tick is merely the vector for spreading the disease through their bites, in specific it is the deer tick that is best known for spreading Lyme disease in the Northern Hemisphere. Even as pin-head sized nymphs, the deer tick is capable of spreading the bacteria responsible for causing Lyme disease. It should be noted that the tick must be embedded for at least 18 hours for transmission to occur.
The tick acquires Lyme disease after feeding on an infected deer or mouse. You cannot get Lyme disease from eating meat of infected animals, but could risk being exposed to a tick while handling such animals.
Treatment is available and is better when administered soon. This is usually a course of antibiotics. Up to one third of sufferers claim not to have relief even after treatment.
History of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease was first observed in 1975 in the United States with sufferers in, and around, the town of Lyme, Connecticut. It was connected to ticks in 1978, and later to the bacteria in 1981. It has since been found in many countries throughout the Northern Hemisphere.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
In many cases the first indication of concern is a bulls-eye rash in the area of the tick bite. Most victims may not have even realized they were bitten as the small nymphs are easily missed, and they have an almost painless bite. Generally symptoms occur within a few weeks of the bite but can take months to develop, which is part of the reason why Lyme disease is not always diagnosed as people forget about a bite that may have occurred months earlier.
Other symptoms of Lyme disease include lethargy, painful knees, fever, aches and pains, and in progressed, or severe, cases, can include psychosis, difficulty in walking, panic attacks, and difficulty in concentration.
Not everyone who is infected will show symptoms.
How to Protect Yourself From Lyme Disease
The best way to protect oneself from Lyme disease is to cover up when hiking or walking in areas where deer, or rodents, are common. When hiking stay on the trails rather than going into the taller grassy areas.
Hunters should use care when skinning animals, covering themselves to protect against tick bites.
After a hike a person should examine exposed areas (such as their legs if wearing shorts) for ticks. Remembering that nymphs would be tiny, and mature ticks could be as larger as a small pea when full of blood.
If the tick is removed within 18 hours there should be no risk of infection, and some sources suggest the tick must be present for more than 24 hours in order for the bacteria to be transferred. Very few tick bites will result in Lyme disease.
Rural people can keep Guinea fowl, and/or Muscovy ducks for the purpose of controlling the tick populations.