Lyme disease was first reported in medical literature in Europe in 1883. The first case in the United States was in Wisconsin in 1969, years before it gained official recognition as a tick-borne illness in Lyme, Conn. The history of Lyme disease in Connecticut began in 1975 when a cluster of children and adults residing in the Lyme, Connecticut area all started experiencing strange arthritic symptoms.
A woman named Polly Murray, was crucial in getting Lyme Disease recognized when she noticed not only her child but other children in her neighborhood were all coming down with juvenile arthritis. She contacted authorities and went to the media. In 1977, there were 51 cases of Lyme arthritis, and eventually the Ixodes scapularis (black-legged) tick was linked to the transmission of the disease. Then in 1982, Willy Burgdorfer, Ph.D discovered the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. For more on the history of Lyme Disease Click Here.
What causes Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a spirochetal infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi. It is caused by a type of bacterium called a spirochete. An infected tick can transmit the spirochetes to the humans and animals it bites. There is some debate to whether other bugs can transmit it, or if it is sexually transmitted. It is however transmitted in utero. It is a multi systemic inflammatory infection. If left untreated it will travel from your skin, through the bloodstream, joints, organs, and will establish itself in various body tissues, and can cause a number of symptoms incuding neuropsychiatric manifestations.
The Symptoms of Lyme Disease
There are three stages to Lyme Disease.
Early localized infection (The first month)
Bull’s eye rash (erythema migrans) The rash is usually circular and has a fading spot in the center. Less then half the people infected will develop a rash.Note: Some people will never have any symptoms in this stage.
Flu like symptoms (Usually the first symptoms)
Muscle and joint pain S
Swollen lymph nodes
Early disseminated infection (1 to 4 months)
If Lyme disease is not detected and treated while early symptoms are present, the infection may disseminate and affect the skin, joints, organs, nervous system, and heart.
Migrating pain (pain that changes locations and comes and goes)
Weakness and/or numbness in the arms or legs.
Severe and recurring headaches
Fainting or vaso vagal attacks
Poor memory and concentration problems
Irritability Vision problem
Internal buzzing feeling
Stage 3 Late Persistent Infection
Late disseminated Lyme
Swelling and pain in the joints
Numbness and tingling in the extremities
Bells Palsy (partial paralysis of the face)
Getting lost in familiar places
Word retrieval problems,
Migrating pain and symptoms
Tinnitus, ear ringing or feeling of fullness
Shortness of breath
Rib and sternum soreness
Upset stomach and GI problems
Burning and stabbing pains
This is just a generalized short list of symptoms. Lyme disease can cause almost any symptom because it is a multi systemic disease. It can travel anywhere including your central nervous system (spine and brain). One of the common complaints of patients with Lyme Disease is that the symptoms come and go and change locations frequently. You can take a group of several people infected with Lyme, and all might be experiencing different symptoms. The time frames of each stage are generalized also. Each patient moves through these stages at different timing. One person may not show symptoms for several months while another may get stage three symptoms rather quickly. It all depends on strains, co-infections, and your own immune system.
Lyme Disease has become an umbrella term for several different infections, viruses, parasites passed on by ticks, other bugs such as dust mites, congenitally, and possibly sexual transmission. Please educate yourself further if you have lingering symptoms that doctors are having a hard time explaining. Learn more about the other infections here.