RECOGNIZING LYME DISEASE
SO WHAT IS LYME DISEASE?
Lyme disease is caused by spiral-shaped bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi (found in the U.S.) and Borrelia afzelii (found in Europe). Two different species of ticks, Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus, transmit the bacteria to humans via bites.

WHAT CAUSES LYME DISEASE?
​Some ticks carried by deer transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Lyme disease is not contagious from person to person. Lyme disease can affect many areas of the body including the heart, skin, joints, and nervous system.

WHERE IS LYME DISEASE FOUND?
​Lyme disease is present in all 50 states, but the illness is most commonly found in the Northeastern part of the U.S. Lyme disease is prevalent in areas with a high population of ticks, especially ticks infected with the Lyme disease bacteria. More than 50% of ticks in New York State carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. The illness has been reported all over the world including Australia, China, Europe, Japan, and in countries that were once part of the Soviet Union.
WHAT ARE THE SIGN AND SYMPTOMS?
There are three distinct phases of Lyme disease. Each phase involves different parts of the body. 

1. Early localized disease causes skin rashes and redness.

2. Early disseminated disease affects the nervous system and heart. People in this stage may have palsies that cause paralysis and tremors. A rare but potentially life-threatening bacterial infection called meningitis may occur in this stage. Meningitis affects the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meninges). 


3. Late disease involves arthritis and neurological issues. During this stage damage to nerves of sensation and movement can occur.

EARLY LOCALIZED DISEASE

A characteristic flat, red ring or bull's-eye rash develops in 75% of those who have been bitten by a tick infected with Lyme disease. The rash appears days to weeks after the bite and spreads outward. The bull's-eye rash is called "erythema migrans." Some people don't notice or remember being bitten by a tick either because the tick was too small or a rash never appeared. Someone with newly acquired Lyme disease may suffer from fatigue, headache, joint and muscle stiffness, and swollen glands. Later stages of the disease affect the heart, joints, and nervous system.

EARLY DISEMINATED DISEASE

A characteristic flat, red ring or bull's-eye rash develops in 75% of those who have been bitten by a tick infected with Lyme disease. The rash appears days to weeks after the bite and spreads outward. The bull's-eye rash is called "erythema migrans." Some people don't notice or remember being bitten by a tick either because the tick was too small or a rash never appeared. Someone with newly acquired Lyme disease may suffer from fatigue, headache, joint and muscle stiffness, and swollen glands. Later stages of the disease affect the heart, joints, and nervous system.

LATE STAGE DISEASE 

Late-stage Lyme disease can inflame the heart and lead to heart rhythm disorders and even heart failure. Nervous system problems associated with late disease may include facial paralysis (Bell's palsy), meningitis, confusion, and abnormal function of the nerves outside of the spinal cord (peripheral neuropathy). Joint inflammation can occur -- typically in just one to a few joints (often the knees) -- resulting in pain, stiffness, and swelling. Arthritis associated with Lyme. disease can become chronic and may mimic other forms of inflammatory arthritis.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR LYME DISEASE?
Antibiotics can cure Lyme disease. Different stages of disease may be treated with different antibiotics. Treatment choices also depend on the areas of the body involved. Oral amoxicillin (Amoxil), cefuroxime axetil (Ceftin), and doxycycline (Vibramycin) are often used to treat the early stages of Lyme disease. A bull's-eye skin rash after a tick bite is a reason to see the doctor urgently for treatment. The rash typically resolves in about 1 or 2 weeks with antibiotic treatment. Intravenous medications such as ceftriaxone (Rocephin) may be necessary to treat later stages of Lyme disease.

THE BEST CURE IS PREVENTION

The best way to avoid Lyme disease is to prevent it! Take the following measures to reduce the risk of a tick bites and illness. 

Wear shirts with long sleeves and pants to protect the skin.

Apply bug repellant containing DEET to exposed areas. 


Examine clothing, kids, and pets for ticks after excursions to areas known to harbor ticks. 


If a tick bites, use tweezers to remove it from the skin. Place the tick in a closed container and provide it to health professionals for identification.

Remove clothes and bathe -- washing the entire body and scalp -- to help prevent tick bites and the transmission of Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is nothing to sneeze at. You could be left with a lifelong chronic condition that can flare up years after exposure. I encourage you to take the steps to prevent contracting this disease. 

Remember friends surviving and thriving in a SHTF Is going to be difficult in itself. But it will be infinitely harder with some of the effects that Lyme disease will leave you. Remember prevention is key. Stay safe and God bless.