Lyme Disease

January 20, 2011 by staff 

Lyme Disease, Lyme disease or Lyme borreliosis [1] is an emerging infectious disease caused by at least three species of bacteria belonging to the genus Borrelia. [2] [3] Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto [4] is the main cause of Lyme disease in the United States, whereas Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii conditions cause most European countries. The disease takes its name from the town of Lyme, Connecticut, United States, where a number of cases were identified in 1975. Although Allen Steere realized in 1978 that Lyme disease is a disease transmitted by ticks, the cause of the disease remained a mystery until 1981, when Willy Burgdorfer has identified B. burgdorferi.

Lyme disease is the most common tick in the northern hemisphere. Borrelia is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected ticks belonging to several species of the genus Ixodes (“hard ticks”). [5] The first symptoms may include fever, headache, fatigue, depression, and a characteristic rash called erythema migrans circular. Without treatment, symptoms later can attack the joints, heart and central nervous system. In most cases, antibiotics eliminate the infection and its symptoms, especially if the disease is treated early. Treatment [6] Delayed or inadequate can cause more severe symptoms, which can be disabling and difficult to treat [7]. Lyme disease is a Biosafety Level 2 disease.

Lyme disease can affect many body systems and produce a range of symptoms. Not all patients with Lyme disease have all the symptoms and most symptoms are not specific to Lyme disease, but may occur with other diseases as well. The incubation period from infection to onset of symptoms is usually one to two weeks, but may be much shorter (days) or much longer (several months or years). Symptoms usually occur from May to September because the nymphal stage of the tick is responsible for most cases [8]. Asymptomatic infection exists but occurs in less than 7% of infected people in the U.S. [9]. Asymptomatic infection may be more common among people infected in Europe [10].

Lyme disease is caused by Gram-negative spirochetal the genus Borrelia. At least 11 Borrelia species have been discovered, of which 3 are known to be associated with Lyme. [28] [29] The species of Borrelia that cause Lyme disease are collectively known as Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, and show a high genetic diversity [30].

The group Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato is composed of three closely related species that are probably responsible for the vast majority of cases: B. burgdorferi sensu stricto (predominant in North America, but also present in Europe), B. afzelii and B. garinii (both predominant in Eurasia). [28] Some studies have also suggested that B. and B. valaisiana bissettii can sometimes infect humans, but these species do not seem to be important causes of illness

Lyme disease is diagnosed clinically based on symptoms, physical examination (such as erythema migrans, facial palsy, or arthritis), history of possible exposure to infected ticks and serological tests blood. When making a diagnosis of Lyme disease, the health care providers should consider other diseases that can cause similar diseases. Most but not all patients with Lyme disease will develop the characteristic bulls-eye rash, but many do not recall a tick bite [77]. Laboratory testing is not recommended for people who have no symptoms of Lyme disease. [via wikipedia]

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