Lyme Disease

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Lyme Disease

Introduction & Symptoms | Causes & Treatments | Recommended Web Sites

Lyme disease is transmitted by tiny ticks of the Ixodidae family and afflicts about 10,000

people yearly. Initially identified in a group of children in Lyme, Conn.,

the disease has now been found in nearly all states and 18 other countries. About 90 percent

of cases are reported in three areas: the northeast and mid-Atlantic states (Massachusetts to

Maryland),

the upper Midwest (Minnesota and Wisconsin), and the Far West (California and Oregon).

The first sign is usually a bull's-eye rash that expands to several inches in diameter

before disappearing after a few weeks. In some cases, the rash may take a different form or

may be absent altogether. Other early symptoms — with or without the rash

— are flu-like feelings of fatigue, headache, fever, sore throat, chills or body aches.

You may also have vague pains in the joints, without swelling. In about half the patients who are not treated, this joint

pain returns in about six months as painful arthritis with swelling, usually in one knee. In about 10 percent of these cases,

Lyme arthritis becomes chronic. Some patients also experience a complex range of other symptoms, including stiff neck, headaches,

sensitivity to light, memory loss, mood changes, chronic fatigue, recurring rashes, paralysis of one or both sides of the face,

disruption of heart rhythm, and areas of tingling or numbness.

Because the symptoms are random and vague (aside from the bull's-eye rash), Lyme disease can be hard to diagnose.

Unfortunately, unless Lyme disease is treated promptly, it can also be difficult to cure. This is one reason the

disease has inspired considerable anxiety among residents in areas where it is common, and may be a reason it is

also overdiagnosed.

The good news is a vaccine that appears to prevent Lyme disease has been under...
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