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Lyme disease is a collection of effects caused by Bb. Once Bb gains entry to the body through a tick bite, it can move through the bloodstream quickly. Only 12 hours after entering the bloodstream, Bb can be found in cerebrospinal fluid (which means it can affect the nervous system). Treating Lyme disease early and thoroughly is important because Bb can hide for long periods within the body in a clinically latent state. That ability explains why symptoms can recur in cycles and can flare up after months or years, even over decades. It is important to note, however, that not everyone exposed to Bb develops the disease.
Lyme disease is usually described in terms of length of infection (time since the person was bitten by a tick infected with Bb) and whether Bb is localized or disseminated (spread through the body by fluids and cells carrying Bb). Furthermore, when and how symptoms of Lyme
disease appear can vary widely from patient to patient. People who experience recurrent bouts of symptoms over time are said to have chronic Lyme disease.
The most recognizable indicator of Lyme disease is a rash around the site of the tick bite. Often, the tick exposure has not been recognized. The area of rash eruption might be warm or itch. The rash—erythema migrans (EM)—generally develops within 3–30 days and usually begins as a round, red patch that expands. Clearing may take place from the center out, leaving a bull's-eye effect; in some cases, the center gets redder instead of clearing. The rash may look like a bruise on individuals with dark skin. Of those who develop Lyme disease, about 50% notice the rash; about 50% notice flu-like symptoms, including fatigue, headache, chills and fever, muscle and joint pain, and lymph node swelling. However, a rash at the site can also be an allergic reaction to the tick saliva rather than an indicator of Lyme disease, particularly if the rash appears in less than 3 days and disappears only days later.
Author Info: Belinda Rowland, Rebecca J. Frey PhD, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, 2005This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare professional with any health concerns you may have.
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