Contagious diseases are infectious and can spread from an infected person to any other healthy person if they come in contact. These diseases can spread from infected humans or animals.
Contagious diseases can spread in many ways:
- They can spread through activities such as kissing the infected person.
- Touching the infected person.
- Even sharing utensils or other things with them.
Contagious diseases can be prevented even after meeting an infected person by following proper hygiene such as washing hands with soap. Using disinfectants, and wearing masks and gloves. People should also be encouraged to take properly prescribed vaccines.
Some contagious diseases include AIDS, Chicken pox, Coronavirus disease, Ebola, Diphtheria, flu, Hepatitis, HPV, Monkey pox, Measles, Mumps, Rabies, etc. This article talks about Lyme disease and tries to answer the question- Is Lyme disease contagious?
1. What Is Lyme Disease?
Caused by “Borrelia burgdorferi“, Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease. A person can get infected by Lyme disease if they get bitten by a deer tick which has been infected by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium.
Lyme disease has been named after the town of Old Lyme in Connecticut where it appeared first in the 1970s. Since then this disease has been really common in the United States. The most common question that has been related to it is: “Is Lyme disease contagious?”
1.1 What are Ticks?
Ticks are parasites that are mostly found on the bodies of host animals. Ticks stick to the skin of warm-blooded animals and suck their blood.
Ticks (like a deer tick) are very infectious and can contain various viruses and bacteria. They can even affect humans by biting them. Deer ticks are tiny and are almost impossible to identify with the naked eye.
The more time an infected tick stays on a body the more blood it sucks. Ticks are arthropods and they are related to spiders.
They come in various colors, and sizes and numerous types like the dog tick, the deer tick, etc. Infected ticks can spread diseases like Babesiosis, Spotted fever, Lyme disease, etc.
1.1.1 Life Cycle of a Tick
A tick can live up to 2 years and within these years they go through 4 phases.
The life of a tick begins when an adult tick lay eggs on the host animal. As soon as the egg hatches the tick moves on to the larval phase and then to the nymph phase and then they finally become adult ticks. Immature ticks need a constant blood diet to survive.
Ticks can identify a host body by its smell, breath, and heat to attach itself. Ticks either fly or jump onto the host. Once they have reached the host’s body they slowly climb up to find a suitable spot to suck blood.
1.1.2 How Do Ticks Transmit Various Diseases?
Ticks attach themselves to the skin of the host by inserting their feeding tube through the skin. If the tick happens to be infected then it can transmit the same infection to the host.
Ticks especially deer ticks can get themselves infected if they feed on animals that are infected by bacteria.
1.1.3 What to Do After a Tick Bite?
If a person gets bitten by a tick, then several measures need to be taken by that person. These measures include:
- Removing the tick from the body instantly. People can use tongs or tweezers to pull the entire tick from the skin while not applying a lot of pressure.
- The infected area must be cleaned thoroughly with soap, rubbing alcohol, or any kind of antiseptic.
- The tick should be killed or taken to a pathologist to test if it has not transmitted any kind of infection.
- Medicines prescribed by the medical expert must be taken as and when they are prescribed to prevent any serious infection or disease.
- Symptoms like rash, swelling, pain, etc. need to be kept recorded in case these symptoms appear then medical help is needed.
2. How Is Lyme Disease Transmitted?
As mentioned above, Lyme disease can be transferred when the bacteria “Borrelia burgdorferi” enters a person’s body. Lyme disease transmission occurs when an infected tick bites its host.
An infected deer tick is the most common transmitter of Lyme disease these ticks stick to the host’s body and attach themselves by inserting their feeding tube within the host.
The feeding tube sucks the blood of the host as well as releases the tick’s saliva into the body of the host, if the tick is infected then the bacteria enter the body of the host therefore, infecting them as well. Immature tick bites as well as adult tick bites can spread Lyme disease.
The tick attains the bacteria if it happens to feed on any infected animal. The bacteria that it has attained get stored inside its body and gets transmitted from one host to the other (If the host is a human). Ticks transmit Lyme disease during summer when they are more active.
3. Stages Of Lyme Disease
There are several stages associated with Lyme disease these stages of Lyme disease include- The early localized stage, and the early and late disseminated stage.
• In the first stage the patient is most likely to develop “Erythema migrans,” a kind of rash. It looks like a big circle on the skin and is also called a bulls-eye rash and it keeps expanding.
“Erythema migrans” occur in the early stages of the first 25 days after a tick bite. The rashes are painful as they keep stinging and they also accompany fever and chills. Medical attention is really important during this stage.
The bulls-eye rash is the primary symptom that tells us that a person has Lyme disease. The rashes are known to disappear gradually within a month.
• The second stage usually occurs after 30 days of receiving a tick bite. During this stage, several rashes may appear in most parts of the body followed by the feeling of drowsiness and illness.
During this stage, very serious medical attention is needed because this stage signifies that Lyme disease has been very severe and infection resulting from it has spread to most parts of the body.
During this phase, the patient may witness several lesions like “Erythema multiforme.” The heart rate of the patient might become unsteady and facial paralysis and meningitis can also occur.
•The last stage signifies an untreated Lyme disease it includes arthritis or inflammation of joints.
The bones of the patient tend to get stiff and lose mobility short term memory loss and insomnia might also occur during this stage these suggest that Lyme disease might not have been cured or identified or treated early during the first two stages.
This stage may occur after several months in severe cases even after a year of being bitten by a tick that was infected.
4. Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Symptoms of Lyme disease vary from person to person. Different people are shown to react differently to them. Below are some of the symptoms of Lyme disease.
• Fatigue is very likely to occur in a person suffering from Lyme disease. The patient starts to feel lethargic and any kind of physical labor can increase the heart rate and can make them take heavy breaths.
• Rashes are likely to appear in different parts of the body the rashes are painful and it never stops burning.
• Skin lesions, also called “Erythema migrans,” can appear in different parts of the skin. The lesions can be as small as a coin or cover up the patient’s entire back. This can also increase the heart rate of the patient.
• Lyme arthritis or stiffening of the bones of the patient can also take place as one of the symptoms. This usually occurs in the last stage of the disease and it tells us that the disease has not been cured properly.
• Patients are also likely to develop short-term memory loss and may also experience difficulty falling asleep.
• Glands of the body may get swollen.
• Partial facial paralysis can also be experienced which is caused by the pinching of the nerves that are present on the face. the face of the patient may tend to drop this signifies that the infection has spread to most parts of the body and it is getting severe.
• Most patients may also complain about heartaches which may cause a heart attack.
• Feeling and sensation of touch can also be lost.
• Flu-like symptoms can also be experienced.
• Hormonal changes are also very common.
5. Is Lyme Disease Contagious?
The question is Lyme disease contagious? Is very common and everybody wants to know if Lyme disease spread from one person to another. Although Lyme disease gets transmitted from animals to humans through ticks there is no evidence at all that proves that line disease can spread from one person to another.
Lyme disease is not contagious and it cannot be transmitted from an infected person to a healthy person but it can be transmitted from the mother to her foetus.
“Borrelia burgdorferi” can be present in saliva or breast milk or other body fluids of the patient but it still cannot be transferred by coming in contact with an infected person’s fluids.
Although people suffering from Lyme disease or prescribed not to donate blood because the bacteria can be transferred through blood. Pets having Lyme disease infected tick can spread Lyme disease to humans.
So the simple answer to the question is – is Lyme disease contagious? is- no, Lyme disease is not contagious but still, blood transfusions can spread it from one infected person to the other.
6. Post Lyme Disease Syndrome
Sometimes the person who has been infected by Lyme disease may experience certain symptoms of Lyme disease even after taking antibiotics this is called post-Lyme disease syndrome.
About 10% of patients diagnosed with Lyme disease asset experience this syndrome even after taking antibiotics.
Post-Lyme disease syndrome happens when a patient begins to store the bacteria and acts as a reservoir inside a show prolonged symptoms these symptoms of this syndrome include fatigue, insomnia, memory loss, joint pain etc.
7. Preventing Lyme Disease
Certain measures must be taken to prevent Lyme disease. These prevention measures include:
• Visiting tick-infested areas only while wearing clothes with long sleeves and long pants to avoid tick exposure.
• Carrying insect repellents to repel and avoid ticks and other harmful insects. insect repellent must be applied in a very healthy amount. olive oil or coconut oil can also be used as alternatives to chemical repellents.
• Pets should be kept clean and should be groomed often to check for ticks to avoid.
• In case a person gets infected by Lyme disease then they are advised to eat healthy food and take medicines that have been prescribed.
• Ticks should be removed from the body at once with precision and they should be diffused properly.
8. Diagnosis And Treatment
It is very important to get Lyme disease diagnosed soon after experiencing the symptoms to avoid complications like post-Lyme disease syndrome in the future or any other increased risk.
Certain tests are conducted to diagnose Lyme disease. Usually, an ELISA test also known as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay is conducted to find out any kind of antibodies of the Lyme disease bacteria.
After identifying antibiotics are used to treat Lyme disease. These antibiotics can be oral as well as intravenous. Oral antibiotics may include Doxycycline, Amoxicillin or Cefuroxime.
1. Can Lyme disease spread?
Is Lyme disease contagious or not is a question that has been asked a lot of times over the ages, the simple answer to it is- no, Lyme disease is not contagious and even though it is a tick-borne disease there is no evidence at all that proves that Lyme disease can spread from one person to another. but it can spread through blood transfusion.
2. Can a dog get Lyme disease?
Tick bites can spread Lyme disease to humans as well as to other animals like dogs. A dog suffering from Lyme disease can also show symptoms of Lyme arthritis or joint pain.
3. How long does Lyme disease last in humans?
Lyme disease is said to last about 2 to 4 weeks in a person. Certain antibiotics can cure it, but in some rare cases, a person may still experience Lyme disease symptoms even after taking antibiotics. This is called post-Lyme disease syndrome.