Lyme disease, a soundless world epidemy

Lyme tick - comic

Media have eventually started to talk about that disease that was supposed to be rare. But the message is still way too slack. Eventually, we are now facing an epidemic spreading quickly into the whole world.
According to the CDC1, Lyme disease is the infectious disease with the fastest rate of growth in the United States, with 300 000 new infections per year (that 34 per hour!!!). The other countries are facing the same problem.

Definition

Lyme disease is an infection by the bacteria Borrelia Burgdorferi. It is a small bacteria with a form of a spiral, often transmitted by tick bite.

Borrelia burgdorferi
Borrelia burgdorferi, zoomed 400 times.

Transmission

The tick bite is the most famous transmission mode, but other ways may also exists. 2 to 20 days after the bite may appear a red blot. This is called Erythema Migrans, located around the bite. This Erythema Migrans is characteristic of the disease and one must start the treatment right after noticing it. But this is far from systematic. Actually, the statistics reveal that only 50% of the sick people remember a tick bite. A study even claim that Lyme disease can be sexually transmitted2.

Erythema migrans
Erythema migrans
Erythema migrans
Erythema migrans

Symptoms

In total, more that 100 symptoms have been reported for the disease…
The main ones are:

  • chronic fatigue
  • head aches
  • joint or muscle pain
  • memory or focus issues

Stages and treatments

  1. After the bite may appear a flu-like state (within 30 days)
    -> 3 weeks minimum of adapted antibiotic treatment
  2. A few months later, if the disease hasn’t been eradicated, it will spread into the body. The flu-like state will come back but much stronger, along with various symptoms
    ->Prolonged antibiotic treatment
  3. Enventually, if the bacteria managed to settle in the whole body, the disease become chronic.
    -> That one is more complicated… antibiotics and anti-infectious, along with other treatments that may be specific to the patient. Even if the treatment may bring a big relief, most of those cases have to learn how to live with chronic Lyme.

Screening / Diagnos-tick

Tests for Lyme disease do exist, but they really ain’t 100% reliable.
In case of negative serology, it is still possible to diagnose the disease by noticing the symptoms (especially in case of Erythema Migrans, but not only).

Lyme doctor diagnostic - comic

Co-infections

Lyme disease is, like many others, weakening the imune system. That may enables other harmful bacteries to join the party. You then need to treat each infection than can be a hard job. Also, mushrooms and parasitent may also want to take advantage of the weakness.
Sadly, many sick people never manage to get rid of that mess.

Which countries are contaminated?

Don’t wonder, it’s already everywhere. Even (especially) at your place. Stay alert and mind the ticks.

If you have any question about Lyme disease, don’t hesitate to put it in the comments below!

References

  1. Lyme quick facts
  2. Study suggests that Lyme disease can be sexually transmitted

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