Lyme disease - important information
Lyme disease is the biggest epidemiological problem among tick-borne diseases. Lyme borreliosis, also known as Lyme boleriosis, is an infectious, animal-borne disease caused by an infection with Borrelia bacterium spirochaetes, in particular Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, but also other closely related species, including B. afzelii, B. garinii, B. spielmani, referred to as genospecies. The whole group of these bacteria was named Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato.
Lyme disease bacteria - sleeping enemy of our body
Borrelia bacteria are transferred to the human system by ticks who have them in their digestive tract. The complicated genetic structure of pathogens enable them to easily adapt to the host’s conditions and “hide” from their immune system (e.g. through immunosuppressive activity). What does it mean? It means that our immune system may not notice that we have been infected.
The bacteria have a flagellum which helps them to move and penetrate into cells, even the ones in the immune system. After they penetrate into the cells, the damage a cell wall and wrap it around them. This explains the issues in diagnosis. After they penetrate into the human body, the bacteria change their form into globular structures, i.e. cysts.
They can stay concealed in these forms for many years, without showing symptoms and being immune to treatment. Relapse occurs when a pathogen returns into a flagellar form.
The likelihood of infection with Lyme disease bacteria
The likelihood of infection with Borrelia spirochaetes increases as ticks move through the stages of their lifecycle. After the bacteria gets to the human system, the first symptoms can be identified after 10-14 of the bite.
Lyme disease – diagnosis
Symptoms are the basis for diagnosis of Lyme disease. Blood tests are carried out to confirm infection with Borrelia spirochaetes. Erythema migrans is a manifestation of Lyme disease because this symptom does not occur in other diseases. The sooner it is diagnosed and treated, the more likely that serious health consequences can be avoided.
Erythema migrans - typical symptom of infection
The most characteristic symptom is “migrating redness” (erythema migrans). It looks like a circular shooting target – it is a red spot with a brighter centre which expands, i.e. migrates. The erythema is not an obligatory symptom and half of the afflicted patients showed only rush.
If you notice symptoms on the skin, you should consult a doctor immediately or start pharmacotherapy. After treatment starts, the erythema usually disappears after several days, however it does not mean that the disease is cured. If therapy is introduced early, it can prevent the negative consequences of the infection. Lyme disease can attack our bones and joints, nervous system, digestive system, visual and hearing system.
Neuroborreliosis is a very serious type of this disease. It can cause nerve palsy, which in further stages leads to inflammation of the brain and the spinal cord, sensory disturbances, limb paresis, personality changes, attention and memory disorders.
Treatment of Lyme disease
Treatment of Lyme disease is a difficult and lengthy process. The treatment involves combination therapy: causes and symptoms. The most popular form is targeted antibiotic therapy which lasts for about 3-4 weeks, sometimes longer. It depends on the patient’s condition.
This therapy can be used, if the disease is diagnosed early and the treatment is appropriate. Drugs from various groups are also use to treat coexisting symptoms.
There are no vaccine for Lyme disease.