Seven Days to Stop Lyme Disease Spreading
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As summer approaches, ticks start to proliferate and the risk for lyme disease increases dramatically. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of Americans diagnosed with Lyme disease each year is around 300,000, or 1% of the entire US population.
For those living in tick-populated habitats (see below), recognizing the symptoms and getting treatment early is critical to prevent the infection from taking hold, and from potentially spreading to joints, the heart, or the nervous system. Typical early symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. Read our guide for more information on general symptoms and information about the disease.
Recognize the Early Warning Signs
Unlike other infectious diseases that may slowly worsen, Lyme disease can progress quickly. Advanced, multi-organ Lyme disease can be up to 100x more expensive to treat than early Lyme disease as it may require getting daily antibiotics delivered intravenously.
Half of untreated localized lyme disease cases get worse – spreading from the site of the bite to other organs.
If you’ve been bitten by a tick, it takes 24-48 hours for the bacteria in the tick to infect you.
Between 3 and 36 days after the initial infection, a characteristic rash called erythema migrans rash may appear (in about 80% of cases). It’s a single circular red mark that spreads outwards over several days, with clearing in the center, where the bite occurred. As the rash spreads, a larger paler area of skin can emerge on the inner part of the circle looking somewhat like a bullseye. Because it’s not usually painful or particularly itchy, you may not even notice.
7 to 14 days after the tick bite, if left untreated, bacteria may spread throughout the body, producing what may feel like flu-like symptoms. Symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, facial paralysis, tingling or numbness in extremities, abnormal pulse, sore throat or fever. Approximately 50 percent of untreated patients suffer from some of these later-stage symptoms.
In a small population of patients, the bacteria may spread to various organs, typically a few weeks to a month after an untreated infection. This is referred to as “Late Lyme Disease” and can include symptoms such as: arthritis of large joints, confusion or short-term memory loss, inflammation of heart and brain tissue, and numbness in the hands, legs and feet. These troubling symptoms can persist for months or even years, becoming a chronic condition.
Don’t Risk Unnecessary, Expensive Treatments
As the disease persists, cost of treatment will get more expensive. Compounding the hassle, IV drugs may have to be delivered at a medical facility, or in your home from a nursing agency, daily. Early treatment is better than risking further complications and headaches (quite literally).
To prevent these drastic costs, First Opinion can help you get the tests, diagnosis, and early treatment in order to try to stop the infection in its tracks. Chat with a First Opinion doctor to make sure things don’t get worse!