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Lyme Disease Nick Nagari Period 2 4/20/12 Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness that affects many people in North America and Europe. This disease can affect a person’s skin, joints, heart and nervous system sometimes greatly impacting mobility. The bacterium that causes Lyme disease is called Borrelia burgdorferi (above). This bacterium belongs to the kingdom Spirochetes. Borrelia burgdorferi belongs to the genus Borrelia. The Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria are found in the blacklegged ticks also called deer ticks, commonly found in the northeastern region of the United States. The ticks are brown in color and no larger than the head of a pin making it nearly impossible to detect. Lyme disease was first discovered in Lyme, Connecticut, during the 1970’s when a group of rheumatoid arthritis cases occurred in that area. Scientists in that area focused on deer ticks because a group of arthritis patients lived near and played in wooded areas. The researchers knew that the children’s symptoms started during summer, which is the height of tick season. The children who had Lyme disease got a rash wherever they were bitten (below). Lyme disease is transmitted through the bite of a blacklegged tick. They attach themselves to the host and feed on the host’s blood multiplying in size. The ticks typically feed on blood of mice, birds, deer as well as humans, cats and dogs. They live in bushes, tall grassy areas and most active in the summer. Although it takes just one bite from the tick to get Lyme disease, the tick must be attached to the host 36-48 hours or more. There are 3 stages of Lyme disease. In stage-1 called the localized Lyme disease, the infection is not widespread throughout the body. Stage-2 is called early-disseminated Lyme disease. In this stage, the bacteria begin to spread through the body. Stage-3, called late disseminated Lyme disease the bacteria have completely spread throughout the body. Risk factors for Lyme disease include being outdoors that increase exposure to ticks. Having pets that carry ticks is also a risk factor. The main symptoms of Lyme disease are red, expanding rash called erythema, migraines, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes, loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face, severe headaches and neck stiffness, pain and swelling in the large joints (such as knees) and shooting pains that may interfere with sleep. Anybody who has been bitten by a tick should be watched very closely for about 30 days. The illness can be treated with antibiotics over the course of 2-4 weeks. Overall, Lyme disease can be very serious and cause severe pain but can be prevented if caution is exercised in outdoors to avoid direct contact with ticks. References