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Lyme Disease: Danger Lurking in the Grass

If you’re the outdoor type, make sure you protect yourself. Lyme disease is a serious bacterial infection that follows a bite from an infected tick. Lyme disease causes metabolic dysfunction leading to low blood sugars and being diabetic, your immune system is already compromised. Diabetics could display behaviour patterns of daily anxiety, episodes of outbursts and paranoia when struck with the illness. It is a confusing time.

These poppy seed-sized spider-like insects can be picked up in heathland, moorland, woodland or suburban gardens and parks – particularly between April and October. Lyme is common in many areas, Europe, UK and the USA.

There may be up to 3,000 cases in the UK alone each year, although many go unreported. The main infection is Borrelia burgdorferi; some ticks carry more than one type, but not all are infected. Ticks mainly live on sheep, deer, birds and other mammals. They land on vegetation and attach to skin, clothing or pets. It can take up to 24 hours for the disease to be transmitted after a bite and the tick may feed for several days. You can’t pass Lyme on to other people and it’s easily cured in the early stages, but can have complications if not detected and treated.

The Symptoms

You may not notice the bite until a red patch (like a bull’s-eye, several centimetres across) develops around it, between three and 36 days later. This target lesion (erythema migrans) doesn’t itch or hurt and may last several weeks or not develop at all. You may also feel fluey-feverish, achy and tired.

If this stage isn’t treated, disseminated Lyme disease can develop days, months or even years later. Lyme Disease researchers says over 70 different symptoms have been reported and can lead to long-term disability. They include fatigue, joint pain and swelling, headaches, neck pain, neurological symptoms (limb/facial numbness or weakness, thinking/memory problems, meningitis, sensitivity to light and noise), skin thinning and fibrosis, sleep, bladder and bowel disturbances, heart inflammation and mental-health problems.

The Diagnosis

This can be difficult unless a tick bite or erythema migrans have been spotted. They’re usually treated without testing first, as antibodies (blood immune-system proteins produced in response to Lyme infection) aren’t always detectable in the early stages.

If symptoms suggest progressive Lyme disease, blood tests should be repeated after a few weeks as they become positive in advanced Lyme disease. You may also need blood tests and scans to rule out other diseases and immune system disorders, whose symptoms overlap with Lyme.

The Treatment

Erythema migrans in adults, children or pregnant and breast-feeding women can usually be cured with a course of antibiotics. If you’re very unwell or have symptoms of more advanced Lyme disease your GP will seek specialist advice or even admit you to hospital for treatment. Lyme is unlikely to be fatal, but people with long-term or disabling symptoms may need practical and emotional support.

7 Ways To Prevent It 

1. Be aware. Walk in the middle of paths and don’t brush against long grass, bushes and wooded areas.

2. Cover up. Long sleeves and trousers should be tucked into socks. Tuck long hair into a hat.

3. Wear an insect-repellant containing DEFT, especially on uncovered skin.

4. Wear light colours to help spot ticks inside clothing, especially in skin folds such as groin and armpits. Ask someone to check your neck and body.

5. Children and dogs can get ticks in their hair, too check carefully.

6. Carry a tick-remover tool. Use it close to the skin to remove the whole tick including the jaws. Don’t pull it off, or use a cigarette.

7. Seek medical advice if you suspect a tick bite or erythema migrans.

E301 – Lyme Disease: Danger Lurking in the Grass –

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