In the United States, Lyme disease is a common illness, especially in NY State. Caused by the species of bacteria Borrelia mayonii and Borrelia burgdorferi, Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of an infected deer tick or black-legged tick. While not all ticks are infected, you can never be sure which one is, so it is vital that you take precautions in tick-infested areas. If you happen to live or spend a lot of time in grassy and heavily wooded areas, you could be at risk. Besides taking the necessary precautions, such as wearing long sleeves and pants, knowing the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease (even though they can vary), can help you decide if you need to see a doctor.
While the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease can vary, they usually appear in stages. Early signs and symptoms can occur within a month of being bitten by an infected tick:
• A bull’s-eye pattern can form at the tick site bite anytime between 3 and 30 days after being bitten by an infected tick.
• Body aches
• Swollen lymph nodes
• Neck stiffness
If left untreated, new signs and symptoms of Lyme disease could rear its head, including:
• Joint pain (likely to affect the knees)
• Erythema migrans (bull’s eye rash) appearing on other areas of the body
• Bell’s palsy
• Weakness or numbness in limbs
• Impaired muscle movement
• Severe fatigue
• Heart problems
• Liver inflammation
• Eye inflammation
While only a minority of tick bites leads to Lyme disease, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of Lyme disease, or suspect you could be bitten, consult with your doctor. Treatment for Lyme disease is much more effective if started earlier, so make an appointment with your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms. If left untreated, Lyme disease can spread to other parts of your body for months to years after infection.