©2006 Publications International, Ltd. In the United States, Lyme disease is primarily carried by deer ticks and other black-legged ticks.

Preventing Lyme Disease

The bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which enters the body through a tick bite, causes Lyme disease and its bone-affecting counterpart, Lyme arthritis. Lyme disease takes its name from Old Lyme, Connecticut, where it was first recognized.

Lyme Disease Infection Information

Lyme disease symptoms are varied and show up all over the body. Skin rash; neurological issues, including paralysis, memory loss, and mood changes; irregular heartbeat; flulike symptoms, such as headache, fever, chills, and muscle aches; and joint pain that can lead to Lyme arthritis are all indications of Lyme disease. The first stage of the infection is a skin rash called erythema migrans, which is a rapidly expanding circular patch, sometimes with central clearing, that occurs within days at the site where the tick was attached.

Several weeks after an infected tick (in the United States, primarily deer ticks and other black-legged ticks) bites a person, the joints swell and then decrease in size, triggering Lyme arthritis, which can later reactivate and again swell the same joints. With time, the joint-swelling episodes become less frequent and don't last as long.

Most cases of Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics. For some people, however, the joint swelling becomes a long-term condition, although eventually most Lyme arthritis symptoms will go away. In rare cases, people with Lyme arthritis still have symptoms even after long-term antibiotic therapy and may be diagnosed with "antibiotic-treatment-resistant Lyme arthritis."

Who's at Risk for Lyme Disease?

Ticks will feed on anyone, so if you're outside in their habitat, you're at risk. The majority of Lyme disease cases occur in the Northeast, northern California, and the Upper Midwest (especially Minnesota and Wisconsin). People who work or otherwise spend a lot of time in wooded areas are more likely to run across the little bacteria-carriers.

Defensive Measures Against Lyme Disease

The key to preventing potentially disabling Lyme arthritis is early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment. That said, preventing tick bites or removing ticks from the body promptly will lower your chances of contracting Lyme disease in the first place. Ticks that are removed within 24 hours of when they start feeding rarely, if ever, transmit this infection.

Osteomyelitis, or bone infection, typically happens after a traumatic injury and can cause bone tissue to die if left untreated. To learn about treating and avoiding osteomyelitis, go to the next page.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.