Lyme disease is an infection that is caused by bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacteria are transmitted by the bites of deer ticks called Lxodes dammini. Although named deer tick, it commonly affects furry animals like dogs. They find their way on to the dogs' fur when the canines wander off to woody areas or areas with tall grass. When the tick bites a person, the bacteria get an outlet to enter the body and cause infections. Lyme disease can lead to many health problems like abnormalities in the skin, heart, joints, and even the nervous system.
Is Lyme Disease Contagious?
Lyme disease is passed on to a person when bitten by the black-legged tick or deer tick. It is very difficult to spot deer ticks as the nymphs are the size of poppy seeds, and mature deer ticks are the size of a sesame seed. This disease cannot be passed on from an infected person to a healthy one by touching, hugging, kissing, etc. Also, it cannot be transmitted through air, food, water, flies, mosquitoes, fleas, etc. The only definite source of infection is a tick bite, and therefore it is not contagious.
The best way to avoid Lyme disease is prevention. It is very rare for a mother to pass on this disease to her breast-fed child. As a precautionary step, many doctors ask nursing mothers to avoid breastfeeding for some time. Infected pregnant women are at a risk of developing complications such as infection of the placenta, stillbirth, etc. However, prompt antibiotic treatment may help keep the fetus safe. Infected people or people taking antibiotics should refrain from donating blood since the bacteria can survive in the collected blood.
The symptoms of Lyme disease are divided into three stages. During the early stage, you may observe a rounded rash, which develops within 1 to 2 weeks of infection. The rash can be easily distinguished as Lyme disease rash because of its bull's-eye appearance, which has a central spot that is surrounded by clear skin. The expanding ring of redness is solid-red in color. You may find it warm on touch, and it does not feel itchy. People with a dark-skin tone may observe the rash similar to a bruise.
The rash will disappear within a month and may never develop in some people. Other symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, headache, and muscle pain. Later, the disease may cause uneven heart rhythm, chest pain, and problems in the nervous system. If the nervous system is affected, it may lead to facial paralysis, stinging, and numbness in arms and legs.
The last stage of the condition may be seen before the development of the initial and secondary symptoms. People may experience headaches and may be unable to move their necks. This may be a sign of meningitis. The large joints may swell and become painful. The symptoms may be seen within weeks or years after the initial infection.
You can prevent the Lyme disease by protecting your self with vaccination. It has been reported that 85% of the people vaccinated have been saved from this disease. You should consult your doctor if you are living in a high-risk area. Although, the disease is not contagious, it is very dangerous.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.