Lyme disease affects thousands of people every year around the world, and it has proved that even celebrities can get it. Authors Amy Tan and Rebecca Wells, musicians Daryl Hall and Avril Lavigne, and actors Richard Gere and Parker Posey have all been diagnosed with this illness.
Lyme disease is caused by a type of bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, which has several hybrid strains that lead to this illness. These microorganisms are transmitted to humans through ticks that belong to the Ixodes genus, like the deer tick. These ticks are normally uninfected; they only acquire the bacteria when they bite infected animals. Once they get infected, ticks move on to other hosts, including humans, and they transmit Borrelia burgdorferi when they bite their host and their saliva (containing the bacteria) enters the host’s body. Ticks must be attached to their hosts up to 48 hours for them to transmit the bacteria.
The Mortality Rate of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease, in itself, is usually not fatal. A study conducted by the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that, between 1999 and 2003, only 114 death certificates listed the illness as a cause of death. Only 23 cases mentioned Lyme disease as the underlying cause of death; most of the records listed the disease one of the several reasons that contributed to people’s death.
It’s important to note that Lyme disease can contribute to a wide range of illness, particularly if it’s left untreated. Several weeks after they become infected with the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, patients can develop neurologic problems such as aseptic meningitis and inflammation of the motor and sensory nerves. The brain can also develop inflammation, leading to encephalitis. In rare cases, Lyme disease can lead to cardiovascular problems, such as atrioventricular block (which can lead to abnormally low heart rates), myopericarditis (inflammation of the tissues that surround the heart) and cardiomegaly (enlarged heart). These neurologic and cardiovascular issues can lead to death if they’re not properly managed.
Discomfort Caused by Lyme Disease
Even though Lyme disease itself does not have a high mortality rate, it can cause severe discomfort in those who acquire it. This is particularly true for people who do not get diagnosed in the early stages of the disease and receive the appropriate treatment ASAP.
The first sign of Lyme disease is the “bull’s-eye” rash, which starts at the tick bite location and slowly expands into the surrounding area until the skin looks like the bull’s-eye design of a dart board. Eighty percent of patients will get this rash. This is followed by fever, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and a general feeling of tiredness and weakness, with some patients complaining that even turning and lifting their head require a substantial effort. Lyme disease can progress to arthritis later on; the constant pain and swelling in joints are what make chronic Lyme disease a huge burden to patients.
Some people who have this illness get better with antibiotics only, while others complain that antibacterial medication only increases the discomfort they feel. Many turn to naturopathic, homeopathic, and alternative medication to alleviate the pain they experience and regain strength and vitality.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.