Lyme is a word. Not a sentence.
Much has been written speculating about the effects of tick bites. Ticks can certainly be dangerous, with up to 1,000 people in the UK being diagnosed, with the true number getting Lyme disease (caused by tick bites) perhaps as high as 3,000 (in the US it is 300,000 diagnosed each year).
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection primarily transmitted by ticks, typically found in wooded and grassy areas, including urban gardens and parks. Ticks are most active between March and October.
High-risk areas for infected ticks are the south of England and the Scottish Highlands though infection is possible in other areas. Most tick bites don’t transmit Lyme disease and prompt, correct removal of the tick reduces the risk of transmission.
Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete - a corkscrew-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme is called “The Great Imitator,” because its symptoms mimic many other diseases. It can affect any organ of the body, including the brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, and the heart.
People may (or may not) get a red rash that:
Other symptoms of early Lyme disease may present as a flu-like illness (fever, chills, sweats, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea and joint pain). Some patients have a rash or Bell’s palsy (facial drooping).
Patients with Lyme disease are frequently misdiagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and various psychiatric illnesses, including depression. Misdiagnosis with these other diseases may delay the correct diagnosis and treatment as the underlying infection progresses unchecked.
Check your symptoms and see the photos.
If you have been bitten:
Contact your GP or NHS 111 immediately if you begin to feel unwell with flu-like symptoms or develop a circular red rash. Remember to tell them you were bitten by a tick or recently spent time outdoors.
If Lyme disease is not diagnosed and treated early, it may become late-stage or chronic. This may also occur when early treatment is inadequate. Lyme disease may spread to any part of the body and affect any body system. Typically, it affects more than one body system and can cause life-changing problems.
If your general practitioner thinks you have Lyme disease, they should prescribe a three-week course of antibiotics. It is important to finish the course even if you start to feel better.
Some people with severe symptoms will be referred for specialist opinion and treatment.
Most people with Lyme disease get better after antibiotic treatment. This can take months for some people, but the symptoms should improve over time.
People with symptoms of Lyme disease which last for a long time after treatment may be referred to a specialist hospital for advice.
It is important to note that some websites may offer tests and treatment for Lyme disease that may not be supported by scientific evidence. You are advised to speak to your doctor or occupational health before buying tests or treatments online.