Deer Ticks: Treating Lyme Disease

If you suspect or have determined that you may have signs of Lyme Disease, immediately contact your doctor. Even if you don’t remember being bitten by a tick, an unexpected summer fever or odd rash may be the first signs of a tick-borne disease, particularly if you’ve been in tick habitat. Again, see your health care provider if these symptoms develop.

Patients treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely. Antibiotics commonly used for oral treatment include doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil. Patients with certain neurological or cardiac forms of illness may require intravenous treatment with drugs such as ceftriaxone or penicillin.

Be alert for fever or rash
Symptoms will usually appear in three stages:

Stage 1
In a little more than half the cases, a rash may appear in 3 to 30 days after the tick bite. The  rash is red, blotchy and circular. It may grow to several inches in diameter and clears from the center, producing a ring-like appearance. One or more lesions may occur, but not necessarily be located at the tick bite site. The rash may be preceded or be accompanied by flu-like symptoms which may stay the same, change, or disappear and reappear intermittently for weeks.

Stage 2
Some infected people may develop long-term complications weeks to months after the initial symptoms. These complications may include disorders of the heart or nervous system, including blockage of the heart muscle, meningitis, encephalitis, facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy) and other conditions involving peripheral nerves. During this stage, joints, tendons, muscles, and bones may be painful, often without joint swelling or redness.

Stage 3
Arthritis may develop from several months to many years after the onset of this disease. Arthritis is the most common long-term symptom of Lyme disease. Large joints, especially the knees, are most often affected.

Click here to learn what the NCA is doing to help fight the spread of tick-borne diseases on Nantucket.