Lyme Disease: Danger from ticks
Lyme disease is caused by infection of a bacteria called Borrelia Burgdorferi. It can be contracted from being bitten by ticks. The disease is found commonly in the United States, Europe, and Asia especially in the northeastern and north-central states of the United States, and European countries: Austria, Estonia, Lithuania, Netherlands, and Slovenia. Activities involved in contraction of the disease are trekking, camping, and gardening where the ticks will spread the disease after 36-48 hours of contact with human skin.
Symptoms usually appear 1-4 weeks after contracting the disease. Primary symptoms are Red rash around the bitten skin which is a distinctive indication (Erythema migrans)
- Body aching
- Enlarged lymph nodes
These may be followed by symptoms affecting different systems. For nervous system: crooked face, fatigue, peripheral neuropathies, meningitis, encephalitis, impaired memory or dementia, and altered sleep cycle. For circulatory system: arrhythmia, pericarditis, joint pain, and arthritis.
This disease can be treated with antibiotics from 10-28 days depending on the symptoms and stage of disease.
Prevention: avoid contact with the ticks
- Wear long sleeves clothes to cover the skin from ticks
- Use mosquito and insect repellent that has DEET which can help fend off ticks
- Upon returning, remove clothes to see if there are any ticks on the skin. If so, use tweezers to pull them out vertically by pinching on its head or mouth.
When traveling, therefore, health planning is as important as sightseeing planning. This is simply looking up on the diseases common in the area. Upon returning, seek medical attention once suspicious symptoms appear, and inform the doctor of the travel history to identify the possible causes of the disease.