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Lyme disease is one of many diseases that plaques our world today and is known as a stealth disease. The human body organs and system can be damaged as a result from this disease. The damage also includes the circulatory, nervous and muscular system. Lyme disease is caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi (bacterium) and then it is transmitted to humans through a bite from a tick. The symptoms to look for includes fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans (CDC, 2018).
If the disease is left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
Lyme disease is generally diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks (CDC, 2018). Disease Description Disease Process The disease process starts when the infected tick bites. It is then transmitted into the human by a spirochete which is saliva-covered into the human body system. The saliva is therefore disguised to where the immune system doesnt tThis tick saliva disguises the bacterium from the immune system, allowing it to hide indefinitely, that is, at least, until the flagellum kicks into play.
Once the flagellum inside the spirochete begins propelling it through the body, the immune system activates and rushes to gather its army of neutrophils, monocytes, dendritic cells, and macrophages to kill the invader. Armed with the ability to identify the specific outer cell-wall proteins, the immune system attacks. The spirochete is a step ahead, though, for its second unique ability is that of modifying its outer cell-wall proteins.
Therefore, it escapes the guard of the immune system again, and, while waiting for the fury and onslaught of the immune system to abate, it utilizes its third evasive property – a slimy biofilm, which equips it to resist the harsh treatments and lie dormant until conditions become more favorable. Effect of Disease on Organ Systems In the meantime, the immune system continues fighting in a vain effort to rid itself of its unknown enemy. But, while trying to do good, it unintentionally wreaks havoc on the very thing it is trying to protect – the body and its organ systems. The continual fighting damages the body tissues, releases toxic compounds, and causes inflammation everywhere, sometimes resulting in Lyme arthritis.
This particular musculoskeletal involvement is a common manifestation of Lyme, according to Steere, and is usually the result of an “elevated immunoglobulin G antibody response to the Borrelia burgdorferi” (1995). The bacterium itself sometimes invades the nervous system causing neuroborreliosis and has been known to infect the circulatory system, as well, and more specifically the heart, causing Lyme carditis. Effect of Disease on the Homeostasis of the Body Throughout the entire course of Lyme’s disease, the homeostasis of the body is seriously disrupted. The immune system’s avengers are continually releasing toxins, gravely upsetting the perfect balance that was maintained during homeostasis. This new state of internal instability only serves to complicate things further, as the entire body works against itself in a desperate effort to conquer the unseen foe and regain peace and security.
The struggle simply to diagnose the disease is as real as the body’s struggle to fight it. Because the spirochete can hide so well, even lab testing isn’t always accurate, as it can come back negative numerous times and yet the infection still be there. If caught soon enough, the chances of the lab tests accurately showing it are higher, in which case both the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test and the Western blot test are commonly used to diagnose it. For the most part, though, doctors are having to resort to diagnosing based on the signs and symptoms and a history of possible exposure to infected blacklegged ticks. (Lyme Disease, August 2017) Unfortunately, with its plethora of symptoms that can prove to be challenging as well, since Lyme’s disease can manifest itself as many other diseases, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, MS, Parkinson’s, etc. Its unique ability to evade the immune system renders it a dreaded enemy, as the immune system will fight tirelessly to kill it, destroying the whole body in the process, and all to no avail. This singular characteristic also makes it very challenging to diagnose and treat, as it presents itself as numerous other viruses and diseases, earning itself the title of the “Great Imitator”. (Lyme disease, n.d.)
One of the surest ways to know it is Lyme is if you develop a “bull’s eye rash” shortly after being in a tick infested area. Other early symptoms include chills, headaches, muscle and joint pains, swollen lymph nodes, a fever, and fatigue. If not caught early on, the symptoms become increasingly greater from expanding skin rashes, nerve inflammation, weak arms and legs, and frequent, but brief, episodes of joint pains to early arthritis, heart problems, numbness in arms and legs, severe headaches and fatigue, and problems with hearing, memory, and concentration loss. (Al-Busaidi, 2016)
Main Causes According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme’s disease is normally transmitted by infected black-legged ticks, otherwise known as deer ticks or more specifically Ixodes scapularis, in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and north-central United States. On the Pacific Coast, the disease is spread by the western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus). It has been rumored that the disease could potentially be transmitted via mosquitoes, fleas, blood transfusions, breast milk, or from an infected mother to her baby in utero, but although highly suspected it has not yet been completely verified. Treatment Treatment and Management Treatment protocols vary depending on the length of the illness. If caught early on, a combination of doxycycline, amoxicillin, and cefuroxime axetil is normally sufficient.
“See references below (Hu, 2016; Sanchez, 2016) for treatment of patients with disseminated (late) Lyme’s disease” (Lyme Disease, December 2017). Steps for Prevention The most successful prevention is to avoid wooded areas or high grass lands. Other more reasonable steps of prevention are to use bug spray, whenever you are exploring in those areas, and to check thoroughly afterwards your entire body, but specifically your scalp, arms, ears, and hair, for ticks. Most definitely, if a rash appears or you come down with a fever within several weeks of removing the tick, go see your doctor. Conclusion Lyme’s disease is a tough and crafty disease to battle and one everyone should be aware of. The earlier you can catch it the higher your chances are of completely recovering from it, so don’t take those random symptoms for granted. Be proactive. It never hurts to check, and, if you don’t, you may end up paying long-term consequences as a result.
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