Potentially very disabling, it is important to be familiar with Lyme disease, and how it is transmitted by ticks, in order to better protect oneself from it. Lyme disease is regularly in the news. But how is it contracted? How does it manifest itself? How is it treated? This article lists 4 things you should know about Lyme disease.
A tick bite transmits Lyme borreliosis
Lyme disease is transmitted by a tick bite. There are several hundred species of this small beast. This mite bites humans and other mammals in order to feed on their blood. During its blood meals, a tick can transmit the microbes it carries, such as the Borrelia bacteria, which cause Lyme disease. There are several of them such as Borellia afzeii, Borellia garinii and Borellia Burgdorferi. Once in the body, the bacteria will grow and cause Lyme disease.
It is not only caught in the forest.
It’s a widespread idea: one could only be stung in the forest. It is true that hunters and forest rangers are notoriously more exposed to tick bites than the rest of the population. But ticks are everywhere. The risk of being bitten is not limited to the forest, since 30% of people who report being bitten have been bitten in their garden. There is also the presence of these mites in meadows and agricultural areas.
But it is not because you have been bitten that you will necessarily contract Lyme disease. Already, not all ticks are carriers of the Borrelia bacterium. Moreover, the tick will not necessarily transmit the bacteria, especially if it is removed quickly, less than 24 hours after the bite.
It can be treated with antibiotics
Normally, a bite from an infected tick can be detected by the red circle that shows around the bite within a couple of weeks. Doctors call it “migrant erythema”. If this symptom appears, it is recommended to go to your doctor who will prescribe a course of antibiotics for 2 to 3 weeks. If left untreated, the bacterium spreads and other symptoms may appear months or even years later: neurological disorders, joint or muscle pain. Untreated Lyme disease can lead to paralysis, which is rare, and in the very advanced stage, to dementia after a number of years.
It is quite easy to protect oneself from it
For outdoor activities, long-sleeved clothing, tucked pants into socks and head protection with a hat or scarf are recommended. Another tip is to choose light colors to better identify ticks that may have become attached to clothing.
After a walk or gardening, it’s important to inspect your body, especially in warm and humid areas such as underarms or groin. This inspection should be repeated a few hours later in order to detect smaller larvae that only become really apparent after they have gorged themselves with blood. If you spot a tick, use a tick remover, or failing that, tweezers, to remove it as quickly as possible. The less time a tick remains, the lower the risk of getting Lyme disease.