Here is what I have learned about Lyme Disease so far. The bright red (“erythema migrans“) lesion I had was the site of the bite. I assumed I had just been bitten, but it could have occurred 3-30 days before that, probably while fishing in the northeast US, the classic area for Lyme Disease. It is not itchy or painful. Sometimes it will clear in the middle, becoming a target lesion, but not always. Not everyone gets the red lesion. Once the tick has fed, it drops off, so I never saw a tick.
The bacteria that do the damage are Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii in the US
You can get Lyme Disease again if bitten by another infected tick.
The test: A simple blood test, results within a day.
Treatment is relatively simple with antibiotics. Three weeks of Doxycycline.
Early symptoms: rash, Fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, headache, neck stiffness and swollen lymph nodes, none of which I had, or thought I had. I’m 72.
- Erythema migrans. The rash may appear on other areas of your body.
- Joint pain. Bouts of severe joint pain and swelling are especially likely to affect your knees, but the pain can shift from one joint to another.
- Neurological problems. Weeks, months or even years after infection, you might develop inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain (meningitis), temporary paralysis of one side of your face (Bell’s palsy), numbness or weakness in your limbs, and impaired muscle movement.
- Several weeks after infection, some people develop:
- Heart problems, such as an irregular heartbeat
- Eye inflammation
- Liver inflammation (hepatitis)
- Severe fatigue
The first symptom I had was very weird: (The red bite was on my right leg and lasted three weeks and was gone by the first symptom) I woke up at night with severe right leg pain. I had just done an 8-hour difficult hike up Gross Morne Mountain, and wrote off this pain as normal. There was no pain during the day. I could hike without pain. Then I couldn’t sleep at night due to the pain. It wasn’t a muscle and it wasn’t sciatica. Nothing I took alleviated the pain. It went away as quickly as it arrived in 2 weeks.
Second symptom: Severe left jaw joint pain, popping, clicking, difficulty opening and chewing. I thought I had that for life, but it disappeared in 2 weeks.
Third: Low grade headache and kept taking Emergen-C thinking I was catching a cold.
Fourth: Neck pain, left side (5/10). I was carrying a camera with a shoulder strap everywhere I went, so switched sides or didn’t carry it.
Fifth: joint pain in left ring finger: pain 5/10
Sixth: Mild chest pain riding bikes one day
Prevention: I have two pair of Bug Pants from https://www.bugshirt.com. Lots of people make them now. I stupidly didn’t take them on this trip. They look weird only because they have a foot strap so it tucks into your shoes or socks. However they are very comfortable and they work. The pants and Bug Shirt were developed for people canoeing in northern lakes and rivers to keep mosquitoes and flies off.