It is estimated that there are 200, 000 new cases of Lyme disease per year, making it the fastest growing infectious disease in the US. Lyme can be spread not only by tics but also fleas, Mosquitos, mites and flies. It can also be spread by human to human contact (breast feeding, blood transfusion, in vitro fertilization and sexually transmitted). Only 30% of adults and 10% of children with Lyme disease have the characteristic rash of erythema migraines. Lyme disease has been misdiagnosed as many other disease processes including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Subclinical Hypothyroidism, and Multiple Sclerosis.
There are three clinical stages: localized disease, including the rash, disseminated early disease and disseminated later disease, which may take up to 15 years to manifest. The classic rash is a bull’s eye pattern which can last from one week to several months. It is uniformly disclosed and the skin at the bite site may be numb. There may also be blistering, ulceration or scaling. Signs of disease include unrelieved fatigue, headache, muscle weakness, aches and pains, back pain, joint pain and swelling and chills. Nausea, vomiting, facial paralysis, swollen lymph glands, profuse perspiration and irregular heartbeat have all been described.
As the disease progresses, liver problems, skin disorders, sore throat, blurry vision, fever and seizures may manifest. In late disseminated form, the disease may appear as a psychiatric disorder including depression, mood swings, dementia, panic attacks, paranoia and eating disorders. Lyme caritas is present in 8-10% of patients with the disease. Treatment of localized Lyme disease is effective with oral antibiotics. Disseminated disease may require IV or long term antibiotics. Non-conventional therapies include omega 3 fish oils, B complex, magnesium and Co enzyme Q10. Vitamin C, carnitine and calcium help.
It is important that you be tested ASAP if you recognize the rash or have any of the symptoms. Treatment in the short term is very effective. Once the disease becomes disseminated or spreads, complications ensue and long term therapy is required!