Concerns about Lyme disease transmission through biting and bloodsucking insects, such as mosquitoes, have existed since the start of the Lyme epidemic.
It is a natural concern because several diseases, including malaria and Zika fever, are easily transmitted by a mosquito.
But this is not the case with Lyme. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mosquitoes do not transmit Lyme disease. The disease can only be transmitted by the biting of an infected tick.
Deer ticks (black-legged ticks) carry the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and are responsible for causing Lyme disease.
Why can Lyme disease not be transmitted through mosquitoes?
The majority of people are infected by Lyme disease through the bites of nymphs (immature ticks). Nymphs are about the size of a pinhead (less than 2 mm) and difficult to see.
They become the carriers of the bacteria when they feed on small rodents infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, such as mice.
They commonly feed during the summer and spring seasons. Nymphs latch onto the body in difficult-to-see places like the groin, armpits, and scalp. As they are very small, they often cannot be seen.
For the transmission of Lyme disease bacteria, the tick must be attached to the body for at least 36-48 hours.
The adult ticks, which are much larger (about the size of a sesame seed), can also spread Lyme disease bacteria. But they are more likely to be identified and removed before they spread the bacterium.
Adult black-legged ticks are typically active during the winter months.
As mentioned above, to acquire Lyme disease, the tick must stay on your body for several hours. A study reports that mosquitoes are also known to be carriers of Borrelia burgdorferi, but ticks can cause Lyme disease.
Thus, Lyme disease cannot be transmitted by mosquitoes.
Who’s at risk of acquiring Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is most widespread in the United States, and black-legged ticks are predominantly found in certain areas of the country:
- Northeast and mid-Atlantic (commonly Virginia to Maine)
- West Coast (particularly northern California)
- North Central States (commonly Wisconsin and Minnesota)
Ticks carrying the Lyme bacteria can be active all year, although they are most active in the spring and summer.
People who work outside and participate in outdoor activities like gardening, trekking, and walking in high grass are more likely to get tick bites.
Only a small percentage of ticks are believed to carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Being bitten does not mean that you will become infected.
However, it is important to be aware of the risk and to consult a doctor if you start feeling unwell.
What happens after the Lyme tick bite?
After the tick bite, you may start experiencing symptoms within 3-30 days. They may vary depending on how long the infection has been in your body.
In some cases, symptoms might not appear until months after the bite.
Symptoms during the first few weeks may include:
- Erythema migrans (EM) rash at the site of the tick bite, which is seen in approximately 80% of people infected with Lyme disease. In the early stages, the rash may look like
- Round or oval with a clear central ring that resembles a “bullseye”
- Warm to the touch
- Scaly or crusty around the margins
- Small at first, but it may eventually grow to 12 inches or more
- Low-grade fever and chills
- Muscle and joint pain
If the infection is untreated after several weeks to months of the bite, it can spread to other parts of the body and cause:
- Rashes in areas of the body other than the tick bite
- Heart problems, including irregular or slow heartbeat
- Mood changes
- Memory problems
- Neck stiffness
- Joint aches
- Eye problems, including inflammation (for example, red eyes)
If Lyme disease is left untreated for months to a few years after a tick bite, the earlier symptoms can continue and worsen.
The person can also develop neurological symptoms, including numbness in the extremities, tingling, pain, memory impairment, and arthritis (a red, swollen, painful joint).
Treatment for Lyme disease
In early-stage Lyme disease, your doctor will prescribe a 10 to 14-day course of antibiotics. In most cases, the infection clears up after you finish the antibiotic course.
Make sure to take all the medicine your doctor prescribes. This will prevent Lyme disease from affecting your joints, heart, and neurological system.
Late-stage of Lyme disease is also treated with antibiotics. Sometimes, intravenous antibiotics may be necessary for refractory arthritis or neurologic disease.
In some cases, patients may experience a temporary worsening of symptoms during antibiotic therapy. This is often called the Herx or Jarisch–Herxheimer reaction. The reaction occurs because of the death of bacteria.
When antibiotic therapy is initiated, the bacterial cells are destroyed and release endotoxins into the bloodstream. In response to the bacterial endotoxins, a sudden immune response occurs, which triggers a series of symptoms such as:
- Nausea and gastrointestinal problems
- Intense fatigue
- Severe body pain
- Exacerbation of previous symptoms
- Severe headache
To know more about Herxheimer’s reaction, read Jarisch-Herxheimer’s reaction and Lyme disease.
Although most cases of Lyme disease can be cured with a proper course of oral antibiotics, some patients can have persistent symptoms even after they complete the treatment.
This condition is called chronic Lyme disease or posttreatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS).
Posttreatment Lyme Disease Syndrome
PLTDS is characterized by persistent fatigue, joint or muscle aches, and cognitive dysfunction. The symptoms last for 6 months or more.
The condition is becoming more common nowadays. Research says that even long-term antibiotic treatment can leave certain Lyme bacteria unaffected. If the bacteria are not completely removed, the early symptoms may worsen and lead to severe neurological health problems.
These bacteria remnants can activate your body’s immune reaction, causing symptoms similar to or identical to autoimmune diseases.
Unfortunately, there is no proven therapy for PTLDS. Over time, PTLDS symptoms may subside, but it can take months to feel completely well.
However, to treat the lingering symptoms of PTLDS and boost your immune system, you can use pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF).
PEMF therapy for Lyme Disease
PEMF is a noninvasive therapy that uses low-level electromagnetic radiation to treat the symptoms of chronic Lyme disease. It emits infrared rays, which stimulate and improve the circulatory, endocrine, neurological, and lymphatic systems.
How does PEMF therapy work?
Your body requires electrical changes on a cellular level to create an effect on cellular metabolism across the body and to your brain to heal from diseases or injuries.
PEMF therapy sends electromagnetic waves into the body. These magnetic energies work in conjunction with the body’s natural magnetic field and aid in the healing process.
The therapy can activate the energy in your cells. When cells are activated by the magnetic waves sent by the PEMF device, they become positively charged and cause other electrical currents to form pulses.
This entire process influences movement, healing, and the sending of signals. Any electrical current disruption can cause dysfunction or disease. PEMF therapy helps to restore the normal state of electrical current, promoting overall wellness.
In clinical studies, PEMF has been proven to help decrease inflammation, enhance circulation, and relieve pain. The therapy creates a beneficial magnetic field that helps in:
- Reduction of pain and inflammation
- Reduction of chronic stress and fatigue
- Correction of cellular dysfunction
- Improvement of the body’s natural recovery process
- Improvement of joint functionality
- Restoration and relaxation
Learn more about how PEMF therapy can aid in the treatment of Lyme disease.
- There is no conclusive evidence that mosquitoes are capable of transmitting Lyme disease.
- Remember, every tick bite might not cause Lyme disease, as it takes some hours before the Borrelia bacteria are transmitted.
- The best way to avoid tick bites is to take precautions before going out in a tick-prone area.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to avoid tick bites, and once you are back, change clothes and take a shower.
- If you feel sick or develop any kind of rash after being in an area that probably has ticks, consult your doctor immediately.
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