Some ticks transmit Lyme disease to humans when bitten. Removing the tick early can protect against the bacterial infection. Lyme disease is usually treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, the infection can lead to secondary diseases. But this is rare.
Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. It is more common than early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE), which can also be transmitted by ticks. In Germany, about 3 out of 10 people contract the disease each year.000 people contract Lyme disease.
How to recognize Lyme disease? Information about $CMS_IF( ! tt_headline.isEmpty)$$CMS_VALUE(tt_headline.toText(false).convert2)$$CMS_END_IF$
In Lyme disease, the skin near the site of the injection first becomes inflamed. Later, the bacteria called "borrelia" can also attack joints and various organs. In most cases, however, the infection does not cause severe symptoms.
A mostly itchy redness caused by a tick bite is a normal inflammatory reaction. It has nothing to do with Lyme disease and often recedes within a few days after removal of the animal. If, however, a few days or weeks after a bite a red spot appears at the site of the bite, this can indicate Lyme disease. A typical spot is one that spreads in a ring until it reaches a diameter of more than five centimeters. This is why it is also called "wandering redness".
Typical sign of Lyme disease
If wandering redness occurs, it is important to see a doctor. This is also true if within six weeks after a tick bite flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue and muscle pain occur. Such complaints can also indicate Lyme disease, even if there is no redness.
Lyme disease can already be detected by physical examination if a typical skin spot has formed. It is important to inform the doctor about the tick bite. If the physical examination is not sufficient, the blood may be examined for Borrelia bacteria.
What is the risk of contracting Lyme disease after a tick bite?? Information about $CMS_IF( ! tt_headline.isEmpty)$$CMS_VALUE(tt_headline.toText(false).convert2)$$CMS_END_IF$
According to estimates, about one in 100 people contract Lyme disease after a tick bite. The risk of Lyme disease mainly depends on,
– how long the tick has been in the skin and – how old and large it was.
Large ticks are more often infected with Borrelia than small ticks, because they are older and have usually bitten more hosts before. Borrelia bacteria can be found everywhere in Germany. The rate of infected ticks varies greatly from region to region; reliable figures are not available.
When an infected tick bites, however, it does not necessarily transmit bacteria . Borrelia live in the intestine of the tick. Not in their salivary glands like TBE viruses. Therefore, if at all, an infection only occurs after the tick has sucked for a longer period of time . You can therefore protect yourself effectively against Lyme disease if you check your body for ticks immediately after going outdoors and remove them within 24 hours. How is Lyme disease treated. How does it progress? Information about $CMS_IF( ! tt_headline.isEmpty)$$CMS_VALUE(tt_headline.toText(false).convert2)$$CMS_END_IF$Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics for two to four weeks, depending on the symptoms. It usually heals without consequences. However, initial antibiotic treatment may not be effective enough. Then it may be necessary to switch to another antibiotic.
Lyme disease symptoms can also subside on their own without antibiotics. However, the risk of a severe course of the disease is then higher. If the pathogen spreads in the body, there is initially burning pain at the site of the bite. About 3 out of 100 people develop what is known as neuroborreliosis. The bacteria infect the brain and the nerves . This can lead to paralysis (often in the face), painful nerve inflammation or meningitis.
About 2 in 100 people develop Lyme arthritis months to years after infection. This occurs when Borrelia bacteria infect the joints. This leads to painful joint inflammation and swelling. Very rare consequences are chronic inflammation of the skin and heart problems.
Both neuroborreliosis and Lyme arthritis can be treated effectively with antibiotics and usually have no late effects. Exact numbers are missing, how high the risk for a severe course of the disease is, if Lyme disease is not or not sufficiently treated.
Does it make sense to take antibiotics preventively? Information about $CMS_IF( ! tt_headline.isEmpty)$$CMS_VALUE(tt_headline.toText(false).convert2)$$CMS_END_IF$
No. It is not recommended to take antibiotics as a preventive measure after a tick bite to reduce the risk of contracting Lyme disease. There are no studies that show an advantage of taking antibiotics preventively. In addition, antibiotics can have side effects.
It is important to see a doctor when the above symptoms appear.
Post-Lyme syndrome and "chronic Lyme disease" – what is it?? Information on $CMS_IF( ! tt_headline.isEmpty)$$CMS_VALUE(tt_headline.toText(false).convert2)$$CMS_END_IF$
Some people notice muscle and joint discomfort, severe fatigue or memory problems months or years after a tick bite. Some affected people and some doctors see these symptoms as a late consequence of a Borrelia infection. The clinical picture is sometimes called post-Lyme syndrome or "chronic Lyme disease" – although the latter is not a commonly accepted diagnosis.
Sometimes such complaints are also attributed to Lyme disease, when no tick bite is known at all and, moreover, a blood test does not provide any corresponding clues. It is then unlikely that the complaints are actually related to a Borrelia infection. Such symptoms can also occur with many other diseases. There are doctors who suggest a very lengthy antibiotic treatment to people with unclear joint problems, exhaustion or concentration disorders. However, such therapy is not recommended. Because if the cause is not a Borrelia infection, therapy remains ineffective. In addition, such antibiotic therapy has side effects and can lead to resistance. Bavarian State Office of Public Health. Food safety (LGL). Diseases caused by tick bites: TBE . 14.02.2019.
Cadavid D, Auwaerter PG, Rumbaugh J, Gelderblom H. Antibiotics for the neurological complications of Lyme disease . Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2016; (12): CD006978.
German Society of Neurology (DGN). Neuroborreliosis (S3 Guideline). AWMF registry no.: 030-071. 21.03.2018.
Enkelmann J, Bohmer M, Fingerle V, Siffczyk C, Werber D, Littmann M et al. Incidence of notified Lyme borreliosis in Germany, 2013-2017 . Sci Rep 2018; 8(1): 14976.
Richardson M, Khouja C, Sutcliffe K. Interventions to prevent Lyme disease in humans: A systematic review . Prev Med Rep 2019; 13: 16-22.
Warshafsky S, Lee DH, Francois LK, Nowakowski J, Nadelman RB, Wormser GP. Efficacy of antibiotic prophylaxis for the prevention of Lyme disease: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis . J Antimicrob Chemother 2010; 65(6): 1137-1144.