What causes Lyme disease?

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Lyme disease or Lyme borreliosis is a bacterial infection that affects multiple body systems and has a wide range of symptoms that vary from person to person. Not all infected patients will develop signs of the illness. But what causes Lyme disease?

The disease is caused by a spirochete bacteria that has three species: Borrelia burgdorferi in the United States, Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii in Europe. Ticks found on animals carry the bacteria in their stomachs and when they bite it is released into the body. A deer tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours for the infection to occur. A person with Lyme is not contagious, but can experience abnormalities of the nervous system, skin, joints and heart. The name comes from a town in Connecticut where several cases were reported in 1975. A group of children who lived in the area had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, an uncommon illness. Alan Steere identified the source of Lyme in 1978, and in 1981 Willy Burgdofer realized that the ticks carried Borrelia burgdorferi.

Tick bites are what causes Lyme disease because they transmit the Borrelia bacteria found in their stomach. Not all ticks are infected and the number of cases in an area depends of the number of ticks present. For example, in some parts of New York over half of the ticks are infected, but that is not the only place where Lyme has been reported. It is mainly spread in the Northeas from Maine to Maryland, in the West from Oregon to Northern California and in the Midwest from Minessota to Wisconsin. Cases have been reported in Europe, China, Australia, and Japan. It is the most frequent tick-borne disease in the Northen Hemisphere.

Ticks from the genus Ixodes are the most common vector of the illness, but rodents, horses and deers can also carry it. In the nymphal stage, the insects are very small and hard to detect, so they can feed for longer periods. Ticks eliminate certain substances that prevents the host from itching or feeling pain. The bacteria is transmitted in only 1% of the cases and if it is treated early with antibiotics, the infection is cured. What causes Lyme disease to develop symptoms is the lack of medication or delayed treatment. If you have suffered from Lyme disease but your doctors failed to treat you on time, you can sue for medical negligence compensation. Medical malpractice doesn’t occur just when the physician, staff or institution do something wrong, but when they fail to do anything at all, as well. In these instances, you as a patient have a right to medical negligence compensation, not only for all the physical discomfort you suffered, but for the stress and pressure you had to go through as well.

Some Lyme bacteria DNA has been found in semen and breast milk, but research indicates that no live spirochetes have been discovered in bodily substances. This means that transmission cannot occur through sexual contact, breast feeding, or across the placenta during pregnancy. Removing the rick as soon as possible from the host can prevent infection with Lyme disease.