What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is known medically as Lyme Borreliosis and is caused by the Borrelia Burgdorferi bacterium. This is a bacterium that is commonly found in ticks both here in the UK and around the rest of the world. Lyme disease is quite common in places such as the US, however due to warmer climates it has started to become more prominent in countries warmer climates across Europe; including the UK. Whilst easy to deal with and treat when caught early, the disease can lead to lifelong health conditions. It’s estimated that around one in every four ticks on average carry the infection. Most cases of lyme disease in the UK are caused by being bitten by an infected tick. Travel clinics will give advice on preventing and treating tick bites.

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How Is Lyme Disease Transmitted?

Lyme Disease is commonly transmitted through tick bites. The tick will attach themselves to the host and then suck on their blood. Ticks are tiny and typically about the size of a seed and can be difficult to spot. To transmit Lyme disease to a human they need to be attached for at least 24 hours and can stay attached for up to 72 hours.

There are now around 2000-3000 cases of lyme disease in the UK every year. The ticks are typically brought in through mice; as mice can carry hundreds of young ticks. So, the more mice there are the more ticks there are. If a mouse’s blood is infected with Lyme Disease then this will pass onto all of the ticks attached to the body.

The ticks then attach on and bite the human passing on Lyme disease to the human. Usually about the size of a seed, they will leave a small bullseye looking rash. There are a number of countries across Europe where Lyme Disease is becoming more prominent.

Where In The UK Can I Catch Lyme Disease?

Some of the places with the highest levels of ticks and reported cases on lyme disease include:

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What Countries Can I Catch Lyme Disease In?

With the climate getting hotter across the globe, mice are continuing to migrate to warmer countries. These mice carry infected ticks which then bite humans causing lyme disease to spread. Some of the countries where you might be most at risk of being bitten include:

  • United Kingdom
  • Sweden
  • Italy
  • USA
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • France
  • China
  • Russia
  • Ireland
  • Germany
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Finland

There are a number of other countries where you might be at risk of contracting Lyme Disease. Before travelling abroad taking a visit to your local travel clinic will ensure you’re fully informed about the risk of contracting lyme disease.

What Are The Symptoms of Lyme Disease?

If you notice a tick then it’s easy to identify the symptoms of Lyme Disease. However, if you’ve been bitten and haven’t realised then the symptoms of lyme disease can be much more difficult to identify. Lyme Disease symptoms can occur anywhere between 2 days right up to 3 months; which the average time of symptoms displaying usually around the 14 day period. Some of the symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • Red rash that looks like a bullseye
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Swollen glands
  • Aching muscles
  • Sensitivity to both light and sound
  • Temperature sensitive / feverish symptoms
  • Neck stiffness

How Is Lyme Disease Treated?

Diagnosing lyme disease can be especially difficult, especially when you don’t realise you’ve been bitten. That’s why it’s important to visit a GP when you display any symptoms, especially after being in a high risk area. If Lyme Disease is caught early on then it’s usually quite easy to treat.

The doctor will prescribe you with a two to four week course of antibiotics. Even if you start to feel better when taking the lyme disease treatment, it’s important to finish the full course to ensure all of the bacteria is killed. There is no current vaccine for Lyme Disease, although there used to be one campaigners had it removed from use. Whilst medical scientist are still working on developing new vaccine, there has been no news of any lyme disease vaccine prototype that is close to being approved.

What Can Happen If Lyme Disease Is Left Untreated?

Treatment for Lyme disease is quite effective, especially when it’s caught and diagnosed early on. However it can lead to more serious symptoms and long term medical problems when left untreated, such as:

  • Problems With The Nervous System – Numbness around the body and facial muscle paralysis
  • Heart Problems – Inflammation of the heart muscle (Myocarditis), inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart (Pericarditis) and potentially heart failure
  • Inflammation Of The Brain – The membrane around the brain will become inflamed
  • Spin Issues – The membranes around the spinal column can become inflamed
  • Brain Functionality – Difficulty with concentrating and memory loss

How Can I Prevent Lyme Disease?

When visiting an area either in the UK or abroad where there’s a high risk of contracting lyme disease. Then you should take a number of precautions to help prevent the symptoms of Lyme Disease from occurring and stop the sticks from biting you. Some of these preventative measures include:

• Keeping to dedicated footpaths and avoiding bushes and long grass
• Keeping to dedicated footpaths and avoiding bushes and long grass
• Using insect repellent
• Checking your pets to make sure they don’t bring ticks home
• When in a high risk area check yourself regularly for tick bites

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Suffering From Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Should you be suffering from one or more of the Lyme Disease Symptoms then it’s important that you visit your GP; especially if you’ve been in a high risk area. If you find a tick bite and don’t know how long you’ve had it then be sure to visit a GP or travel clinic like Broadgate GP. We can diagnose and provide the appropriate treatment for Lyme Disease to ensure you a speedy recovery.

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