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Lyme Disease Cycle and Symptoms
May 13, 2009
This topic was interesting to me because I used to live on the East Coast near where ticks and Lyme disease were a common occurrence. I lived very close to Connecticut where it was first discovered and have been interested in finding out more about it. Another reason I was interested in researching this topic is because my mom was diagnosed with Lyme disease several years ago. I wanted to find out how this disease is transferred and how it affects humans. It is interesting to see how this disease can be passed through several animals and humans and affect them all differently. It goes through several stages before it affects humans. Even though this disease is easily treatable if found in the early stages of its progression it can have serious consequences if untreated.
Lyme disease also known as Lyme borreliosis is cause by three different bacteria. These three bacteria are Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia afzelli, and Borrelia garinii. Borrelia burgdorferi is the leading cause for Lyme disease in the United States. The others are more commonly found in Asia and Europe. Borrelia burgdorferi is a spirochete that was named after Willy Burgdorfer who discovered the bacterium. This bacterium is gram-negative. (Wikipedia)
Lyme disease was first discovered in 1975 in Lyme, Connecticut. (Tortora 685-686) It was first treated as rheumatoid arthritis by later questioned when penicillin aggravated the symptoms. This led researchers to believe that this disease was caused by bacteria. (State) They later discovered that it was caused by Lyme that is carried in the stomach of ticks and can be treated with antibiotics.
Lyme disease is usually transmitted though ticks to humans. The ticks that are associated with Lyme disease are known as hard bodied ticks or lxodes. These ticks complete a cycle over two years that require feeding three times in their life. After the larva hatch they attach to a small rodent usually a field mouse and contract the disease by feeding on the mouse. The larva then grows into a nymph and will feed on the blood of a human or animal for its second feeding. This is usually when the disease is transmitted. Its final feeding usually occurs on a deer after it has developed into an adult. It will also feed off of its mate during that time. The transmission of Lyme disease from tick to human is very rare. It takes 24 hours before the tick begins to feed on a human and it takes several days before Lyme disease is passed to the human. Nymphs are more likely to pass the disease to humans then adults are because they are smaller and less likely to be detected. However, adult ticks contain twice the amount of Lyme as nymphs do. Overall only about 1% of tick bites result in Lyme Disease. (Tortora 685-686)
(I had a picture of the life cycle of a tick, but it is not showing up so go to the Encarta website to view it)
Symptoms of Lyme disease vary with every person who contracts the disease but they can include fever, headache and a distinct skin rash that occurs at the bite site. This rash is known as erythema migrains, however, it only occurs on about three-fourths of the cases. It is said to have similar symptoms to the flu. There are three phases of the symptoms for Lyme disease if untreated. The first includes the symptoms above and are relatively mild. This is called early localized disease. The second phase of the symptoms is called early disseminated disease. This includes complications to the heart and brain. The heart may obtain an irregular heartbeat that requires serious medical attention. Meningitis and paralysis may occur also occur if not treated. The final phase of the symptoms is called late persistent disease. This stage includes arthritis, nerve damage and brain inflammation. (Shiel) This disease can be treated with several doses of antibiotics if found in the early phase and severely limit the negative effects of the disease. If found in the later phases antibiotics is still helpful but may not stop all of the symptoms.
Microbiology Lyme disease
There are two reasons why I chose to research lyme disease. First, the ticks in the town I grew up in, which is a little town called Templeton, had a very easy time finding the warm places on our animals. My mom and I would ride horses on trials, and we would always have to check for ticks under their shoulders and we would check the back of our necks and behind our ears. We had a German shephard and we would do Search and Rescue with her. I would have to go hide in the woods and we would give her a piece of my clothing to see how fast she could find me. A few days later we would find ticks around her face and their bodies would grow, looking filled, and be a light brown color, while their heads would remain dark. I have been grossed out by ticks ever since and I wanted to learn about how much damage they could actually cause. Secondly, while talking about research topics with my partner (Wed. lab) it turns out her mother has had lyme disease for 12 year. We both were interested in learning how ticks related to a bacteria and how lyme disease affects body.
1.) What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial illness that is caused by the bacterium which is known as a spirochete, more specifically the bacteria is called
A spirochete is a gram-negative bacteria, they have distinctive coiled appearances. Another characteristic that makes them unique is that is has axial filaments, which allow the bacteria to twist and turn, which is how it moves. Spirochete's reproduce asexually through transverse binary fission.
2.) When was it found?
n 1982, Willy Burgorfer isolated spirochetes in the genus of Borrelia which was found in ticks. Since 1982, there has been an increase of outbreaks of Lyme disease, which has caused the public to be aware that ticks can cause disease. In 2006, there were nearly 20,000 new cases reported in the United States.
3.) More Info on Borrelia Burgdorferi
When Gram stained this bacteria stains Gram negative but it is stained very weakly, and only stains because safranin is the last dye that is used. Borrelia burgdorferi grows best at 32 degrees C, in an aerobic atmosphere, although it still has a slow generation time.
This bacteria invades the blood and tissues of warm blooded animals, including humans. The most desirable mammal that Borrelia Burgdorferi is the white-tailed mouse.
4.) What are the Symptoms and Treatments of Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease affects people in varies ways, depending on progress and when the patient is diagnosed. The site where the tick bits is the site of entry for the bacteria. Around the tick bite, a redish rash or ring develops, often followed by flu-like symptoms. Lyme disease often affects the heart, nervous system, and joints. There are three stages how Lyme disease attacks the body. The first stage includes inflammation, the second stage involves the heart and nervous system and the final, third stage can cause brain inflammation, and motor complications. Bell's palsy, meningitis, and arthritis can be a result of Lyme disease.
For early stages of Lyme disease antibiotics are generally used. These usually include doxycyline, amozicillin . A 14-21 day course of these anitbiotics are usually recommended. If the disease is in further, progressive stages than penicillin is usually injected. In these later stages of Lyme disease, diagnosis is often delayed and some patients react to antibiotics in a negative way. There is some controversy about the treatments of Lyme disease, as the video explains. Healthcare providers often have a difficult time diagnoising Lyme disease because symptoms can be similar to many viral infections.
Tortora, Funke, Case, Gerard, Berdell, Christine.
. Ninth. Sa Francisco: Pearson Benjamin Cummings, 2007. Print.
Shiel, William. "Lyme Disease."
10 Feb 2009 1-2. Web.13 May 2009. <
Family Dotor, "Lyme Disease."
Information for the Whole Family
05 May 2008 1-2. Web.13 May 2009.
Wikipedia, "Lyme Disease." 12 May 2009 1-2. Web.13 May 2009.
Encarta, "Lyme Disease Life Cycle."
12 May 2009 Web.13 May 2009.
State of Connecticut, "A Brief History of Lyme Disease in Connecticut."
Connecticut: Department of Public
06 Feb 2008 Web.13 May 2009. <
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