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Understanding Lyme Disease: The Basics


Lyme disease is an infectious illness caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected tick. If diagnosed and treated promptly during the early stages, a three-week course of antibiotics usually leads to a successful recovery. However, if the symptoms are overlooked or misdiagnosed, and treatment is delayed or withheld, it can potentially result in severe and long-lasting health issues.

Identifying and Treating Early Stage Lyme Disease

In many cases the diagnosis is straightforward - the person remembers a tick bite and develops the tell-tale erythema migrans (bull’s eye) rash, which is diagnostic of Lyme disease. A three-week course of a high-dose antibiotic will usually be enough to clear the infection. (Clinicians are advised to follow the NICE guideline)  Overview | Lyme disease | Guidance | NICE

The Challenges of Unnoticed Infections and Misdiagnoses

Unfortunately, for many people, the tick bite goes unnoticed, there may not be a rash and the early flu-like symptoms of Lyme disease may be misdiagnosed as a viral illness.

If the infection goes untreated then it may spread to many other areas of the body, causing a wide range of symptoms such as fatigue, pain, neurological problems ( eg facial weakness, brain fog) and heart problems ( eg chest pain, palpitations). At this stage, the possibility of Lyme disease may not occur to either the patient or their doctors. If Lyme disease is diagnosed at this late stage then antibiotic treatment may be less effective. 

Navigating Through the Complexity of Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a complex and poorly understood illness. There are many ongoing scientific uncertainties in relation to diagnosis and treatment, particularly in relation to late-stage Lyme disease, with no international consensus on the required duration of treatment or the causes and management of persistent symptoms. 

Prevention Focus: The LRC's Mission

Since ‘prevention is better than cure,' the Lyme Resource Centre places a strong emphasis on raising awareness and providing education about ticks and Lyme disease to the general population. We collaborate with other organizations, encouraging everyone to enjoy the benefits of spending time outdoors whilst remaining ‘tick aware’. Carrying out regular tick checks after outdoor activities will significantly increase the likelihood of prompt and correct removal of ticks, thus reducing the risk of infection transmission. Awareness of the potential signs and symptoms associated with Lyme disease will  increase the likelihood of recognition of these symptoms and encourage early presentation to a health professional for appropriate treatment.

Additional Resources and How You Can Help

The links below will take you to further information on ticks, tick bite management, and the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease:

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