Lyme disease is an infection caused by a tick bite. The symptoms are extremely varied, making diagnosis difficult. What is its treatment, and what must be done to avoid it?
Definition: What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is found in the northern hemisphere. According to the Ministry of Health, the average number of annual cases in France is estimated at 27,000.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
The symptoms of Lyme disease evolve in three major phases. In the primary phase, between three and thirty days after the bite, a red plaque called chronic migrating erythema (ECM) appears around the point of inoculation. It then spreads slowly, up to ten centimeters, while its center clears. In some cases, a rash can take up to three months to appear after being bitten. However, it usually develops within the first four weeks.
As it is neither painful nor pruriginous (not itchy), the lesion goes unnoticed in almost half of the cases. A secondary phase of symptoms can then occur weeks or months after the disappearance of the ECM. The most common manifestations in cases are neurological, characterized in particular by inflammation of the roots of the nerves in the area of the bite, meningitis, and facial paralysis.
The symptoms of Lyme disease vary from person to person, but the other major ones are fever, fatigue, rash, heart problems, and rheumatology (arthiritis).
In the absence of treatment, a last phase can occur months or even years after the start of the infection. The consequences are very serious and affect many organs of the human body: the brain, heart, eyes, muscles, and joints.
Diagnosis of Lyme Disease
Given the diversity of symptoms, Lyme disease is not easy to diagnose and is often confused with other conditions. Existing serological tests, which are done via a blood test, are not 100% reliable and are open to different interpretations.
It is very open to consult your doctor at the onset of the ECM, because the earlier that it is detected, the more effective treatment will be. During the secondary or tertiary phases, it will be necessary to carry out further in-depth examinations.
Treatment of Lyme Disease
The treatment of Lyme disease is based on oral antibiotic therapy. Many antibiotics are effective against Borrelia bacteria.
The main goal of treatment is to reduce and eliminate the symptoms, and to avoid progression to a more serious phase. At the primary stage, it takes about two to three weeks to be effective. However, if the disease has reached an advanced stage and some symptoms have already become chronic, antibiotics will not necessarily make them disappear.
Prevention of Lyme Disease
Unfortunately, there is no effective vaccination against Lyme disease. The best way to prevent it is to take precautionary measures to avoid tick bites.
During the high-risk period, from early spring to late fall, clothing covering the legs, arms, and neck should be worn when walking outdoors and in forested areas. It is also recommended to always carry out a thorough inspection when returning from a walk outside.
In the event of a bite, it is imperative to remove the tick as quickly as possible using pliers, taking care to remove the head. An extraction performed within 24 hours will typically prevent infection.