Once diagnosed, Lyme disease can be treated. Physicians can determine if an individual has been infected by the Lymedisease organism using a simple blood test; however, some people test negative but have the disease. The CDC warns against unproven tests and it is advised to check for proper testing procedures.
Infection can be treated by taking certain antibiotics. However, no immunity is conferred from infection so a person could get Lymedisease again from another infected tick.
Pets and other animals can contract Lymedisease as well, exhibiting symptoms similar to those in humans. Veterinarians can test for Lyme disease in pets and domestic animals exhibiting suspicious signs of arthritis (in younger animals), heart problems, or neurological signs.
Lyme disease is a bacterial disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacterium is transmitted to humans via a tick bite. Within 1 to 2 weeks after being infected, a “bull’s-eye” rash can develop at the tick bite site accompanied by fever, headache, and muscle or joint pain. Some people may have Lymedisease and not have any early symptoms. However, others can have a fever and other “flu-like” symptoms without a rash.
The first sign of Lyme disease in 70-80% of patients is a red circular rash, called an erythema migrans, around the puncture mark made where the tick pierced the skin. This rash appears after a 3-30 day delay. The most common shape of the rash is an oval 2-3 inches in diameter that usually lasts about 4 weeks. The center of the rash occasionally will lighten resulting in a bull’s-eye appearance. The rash does not itch but may feel warm to the touch. Flu-like symptoms may also develop that often include aches, fever, fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, and headache. Arthritis, cardiac disease, and neurologic disorders may develop if the disease is not properly or promptly treated. Sometimes these more serious symptoms develop without the individual ever having had a rash.
The primary vector of Lyme disease in the U.S. is the black-legged deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) . Other Ixodes ticks are also known to transmit the disease. Lyme disease is maintained in wild rodent populations, on which the larval and nymphal ticks develop. These immature ticks pick up the disease organism when they suck the blood of infected rodents. The nymphal and adult ticks then seek a larger host, such as deer or humans, to obtain their final blood meal and transmit the disease when they feed.