When I contracted
in 2011, I had no idea that it was as serious and complicated a
disease as I soon learned. May is
Lyme Disease Awareness Month
, a time for people to gain some knowledge about how to protect
themselves and their dogs from this debilitating illness.Here are
ten things I didn't know about Lyme disease before I contracted
1. Not everyone gets “the
Lyme disease is characterized by a bull’s eye rash called
Erythema chronicum migrans
, which occurs at the site of the tick bite three days to one
month after the bite. According to the
, only 70-80% of people bitten get the rash. This is quite scary
because the rash is the clinical sign that most doctors use to
diagnose Lyme. If you don’t get the rash, but were bitten by an
infected tick (and perhaps didn’t realize you were bitten), you
may not get diagnosed until it's far too late to treat the
2. Lyme disease occurs in all of the connected 48
Contrary to popular belief, Lyme disease is not localized to
Connecticut. It occurs in the state where you live (unless you’re
in Alaska or Hawaii, in which case, you’re in luck!). Be careful!
3. Lyme disease is incredibly hard to diagnose in
The tests for Lyme disease are sorely inaccurate and may give
false negatives to a Lyme victim for years. This is due to the
way Lyme works in the body – it suppresses the immune system and
doesn’t allow the victim to make Lyme antibodies, and tests only
look for antibodies, not the Lyme bacteria.
4. If caught too late, Lyme disease can
Lyme disease can be cured with simple antibiotics in the first
few weeks of infection. Left untreated beyond that, Lyme patients
may become seriously ill and antibiotics can be ineffective.
5. Lyme disease can be fatal.
People die from complications due to Lyme disease. The Lyme
bacterium affects every organ and tissue in the body, including
the brain and heart.
6. Lyme disease often comes with “bonus
can be found in Lyme patients, including Bartonella (Cat Scratch
Fever), Babesia, Ehrlichia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tick
Borne Relapsing Fever, Colorado Tick Fever, and many others. The
Lyme patient must heal from these diseases as well, making
treatment far more complex.
7. You can’t get Lyme disease from your
dog, nor can you give it to your dog.
Lyme disease is passed to a human or dog by a “vector” animal,
typically a tick, though some reports say that Lyme can be passed
by fleas and mosquitoes too. The tick bites a mouse or deer (or
other animal) infected with the Lyme bacteria, and then passes it
along in its next meal.
8. Not all ticks carry Lyme
Just because you or your dog are bitten by a tick does note mean
that either of you will get Lyme disease, or any other disease.
Some ticks, like the American Dog Tick, are less likely to carry
according to the
9. Removing a tick with tweezers is not
the only way to disengage it.
Tweezers have long been the recommended method of removing a
tick, but it can be difficult to remove the entire tick this way
(the head of the tick), and can be hard for squeamish people.
There’s a new, all natural tick removal solution on the market
called Tick-SR – it safely removes ticks without irritating them
and without you having to touch the tick or the bite site. It
also contains a natural disinfectant.
10. Lyme is a controversial disease.
This is a weird one. It’s very hard for human Lyme patients to
get treatment coverage from their insurance companies, and some
people, including doctors, don’t even believe that Lyme disease
exists. The explanation is very long, but it has to do with
conflicts of interest and politics. If you want to learn more
about it, see the Lyme documentary, Under Our
Skin , available on Netflix.
Do I Have Lyme Disease? (Quiz)
is a tick-borne illness that can cause very scary symptoms
-- from a rash and aches and pains to lasting neurological
trauma, depending on how quickly the disease in caught and
People who'd have Lyme disease
can have very different experiences, some recovering quickly and
completely, and some having to continue treatment of the disease
their entire lives.The trickiest thing about Lyme is that the
symptoms are varied, and that not everyone experiences the same
ones. What's more, symptoms can appear anywhere from a few days
to a few months after the actual tick bite, so nailing down the
cause of Lyme symptoms is often very difficult. Numerous patients
report going through several false diagnoses before realizing
that they in fact have Lyme. This
Lyme Disease Awareness Month
, we're spreading the word about how to spot this disease and get
treatment to stop it from progressing.
So How Do I Know if I Have Lyme Disease?
The follow symptoms can point to Lyme disease. If you think or
know you've been bitten by a tick, keep on the lookout and talk
to your doctor if you feel you need to be tested for Lyme.
Nearly-Sure Sign of Lyme
The most well-known Lyme symptom is a rash that develops into a
"bull's-eye" shape, with a large ring encircling a center
irritation. The rash is usually red and inflamed, but usually not
itchy, and it usually appears at the site of tick bite, but could
also appear on another part of the body. Sometimes the rash
doesn't even have the bull's-eye shape.Be aware that not everyone
infected with Lyme sees the bull's-eye rash, too. If you do see
it, however, it is a very clear indicator that you've probably
contracted Lyme.Sensing a pattern? Nearly everything about Lyme
disease can be different from person to person, which is why
early detection can be so difficult.
Possible Early Signs of Lyme
The more of these you experience together, the greater the
chances are that you've contracted Lyme.
2. A tick bite:
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria that ticks transmit when
they bite. The blacklegged tick, or
, most commonly carries Lyme. If you or your pets have been
hiking in an area with ticks, check yourself and your pets, and
remove any ticks
. Talk to your vet and if possible, bring in the preserved tick
3. Flu-like symptoms:
Symptoms like fatigue, fever, chills, headache, muscle
pains, joint pains, and swollen lymph nodes can indicate Lyme.
Possible Later Signs of Lyme
If you've progressed to these symptoms from any of the ones
above, it's likely that you could have Lyme and you should talk
to your doctor.
4. Facial or Bell's
A loss of muscle tone on one side of the face, or both sides,
resulting in a "sagging" look, can be an indicator of Lyme.
5. Severe headaches and neck
An inflammation of the spinal cord (meningitis) due to Lyme can
cause these symptoms.
6. Pain and swelling in the
knees or other large joints7. Shooting pains:
These pains may even interfere with your sleeping.
Symptoms of Disseminated Stage Lyme
These symptoms are some of the worse Lyme has to offer.
joint swelling and pain10. Numbness or tingling in hands and
Short-term memory problems, difficulty focusing, hallucinations
Help spread the awareness!
Share this with your friends and family, especially the outdoorsy
types this summer, and stay on alert for the symptoms of Lyme
Moustaki is an award winning author, dog trainer, and pet
expert. She has been dealing with Lyme disease and its
co-infections since early 2011. www.nikkimoustaki.com