|Lyme disease discovered in 1975. Lyme disease is a serious illness caused by pin-sized ticks that live in wooded and grassy areas.
Organism causing this disease is Borrelia burgdorferi
|Lyme bacterium needs no iron.
The bacterium that causes Lyme disease has been identified as the first disease-causing germ that does not need to take iron from the blood stream of its host. Other bacteria that cause disease have evolved a strategy to scavenge from the blood of victims the iron that is essential to their survival. Although iron is abundant in humans, the amount of free iron is well below the levels required to support the growth of most bacteria. But Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease, apparently evolved a biological strategy that does not need iron, thus avoiding the problems that other bacteria have in getting iron from the blood stream. In fact, iron is extremely toxic to it.
|How does it present ?
Starts with a typical bull’s-eye rash. Then comes fatigue, chills, fevers and joint pain that can persist for weeks. Some people develop serious arthritis. If untreated, Lyme disease also can severely damage the heart and nervous system.
The disease can even present with cardiac and neurological problems like carditis or Cranial nerve palsies, Chronic Lymphocytic Meningitis, Motor or Sensory Rediculitis, Encephalitis or Myelitis.
|How Best to Protect
Until now, doctors’ best advice was: Use insecticide containing the chemical DEET. Check yourself and your children regularly for ticks. Wear long sleeves and pants tucked into socks or boots when venturing into tick-prone areas like unmowed grass or bush.
But that last bit of advice is unrealistic. Ticks are most active in the summer when people are stripping down to shorts and bare feet. And it’s not just campers, hikers or utility workers stomping through the bush who are at risk. Many people in Lyme-plagued areas are exposed in their own well-manicured back yards, just sitting in the grass or weeding the garden.
Till recently there was no other preventive measure to secure protection against Lyme disease.
|Vaccine for Lyme disease: In December 1998, the Food and Drug Administration approved the world’s first Lyme vaccine, SmithKline Beecham’s LYMErix. Now doctors are advising anyone age 15 to 70 who lives in Lyme-endemic states and spends time outdoors to consider being vaccinated.It requires two shots given about a month apart, and then a third shot a year later. After the three-shot series, LYMErix offers about 80 percent protection from Lyme disease. But after just the first two shots, the vaccine is only about 50 percent protective.|
|Tick checks recommended in high risk areas.
Don’t panic if you get bitten by a tick without being vaccinated. All ticks don’t carry Lyme, and they have to feed on you for about 48 hours before they can transmit the disease. It takes that long for the Lyme bacteria hibernating in a tick’s gut to activate and move into the salivary glands, where it’s injected into a person. If you do regular tick checks each day and remove them, chances are you won’t be infected. The bite itself is not enough.The vaccine, blocks Lyme by creating antibodies that recognize an outer protein of the bacteria in the tick’s saliva, neutralizing it at skin level.
|Treatment: Early cases can be treated with Tetracycline or Erythromycin. Late cases or those with Neurological involvement need treatment with Cephalosporin like Cefotaxime.|
|Diseases & Conditions|