How To Treat Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is often associated with heavily wooded or grassy areas where mice and deer live. This disease is not contagious from an affected person to someone else. Lyme disease can cause abnormalities in the skin, joints, heart, and nervous system. The number of cases of the disease in an area depends on the number of ticks present and how often the ticks are infected with the bacteria.

Lyme disease is spread by these ticks when they bite the skin, which permits the bacterium to infect the body. The bacteria have a complex life cycle, spending part of their life in the deer tick and part in some mammals such as mice and deer.

Symptoms
A circular rash, typically within 1-2 weeks of infection, often is the first sign of infection. The rash usually has a characteristic “bull’s-eye” appearance, with a central red spot surrounded by clear skin that is ringed by an expanding red rash. Along with the rash, a person may have flu-like symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, headache, and muscle aches. Left untreated, symptoms of the initial illness may go away on their own.

Treatment

Individuals should be educated to check themselves, very carefully, at the end of each day in tick-infested habitats, for ticks on their skin. Any ticks should be removed and discarded. Since I. scapularis must feed for 24-48 hours to transmit the disease, this will likely prevent most, if not all, Lyme disease. Lyme disease can be treated at all stages. The treatment differ somewhat for children and adults. In general, early Lyme disease in adults is treated with doxycycline 100 mg orally twice daily or amoxicillin 500 mg orally three times daily for 20 to 30 days. Doxycycline should not be used in children under age nine years or pregnant women. Other antibiotic choices include phenoxymethyl penicillin, tetracycline, cefuroxime axetil, erythromycin, or azithromycin, with the latter two considered to be second line choices.



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