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Lyme Disease?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
My sister has been really sick lately and we think that she might have Lyme Disease--she works outside in central NC so she may have gotten bit by a tick (though we've never seen a rash on her).

She's totally exhausted all the time, disoriented, slightly nauseous, she doesnt eat, and now she has pain in her back and numnbess in her hands.

Does anyone have any experience with Lyme Disease they can tell me about? Im so worried!!!
post #2 of 11
I´m so sorry to heard that...
Sorry for not help but Is the firts time that I heard about it..
My best wishes and my prayers to your Sis....
post #3 of 11
My dad has been treated for Lymes disease twice. But both times he did have that Bulls-eye rash that is unique to Lymes disease. The second time he had been bit by a tick at my house and realized with in a couple of days what had happened.
Could it possibly be West Nile virus which is transmitted via mosquito bite versus Lymes disease ???????
post #4 of 11
Originally Posted by HannahJ
My sister has been really sick lately and we think that she might have Lyme Disease--she works outside in central NC so she may have gotten bit by a tick (though we've never seen a rash on her).

She's totally exhausted all the time, disoriented, slightly nauseous, she doesnt eat, and now she has pain in her back and numnbess in her hands.

Does anyone have any experience with Lyme Disease they can tell me about? Im so worried!!!
Lyme disease is pretty prevalent around here, with all of the woods, it does breed ticks. But also mosquitoes. Heres some information on both diseases. I would have a doctor evaluate her symptoms, and then go from there:

Alternative names


Lyme disease is an inflammatory disease characterized by a skin rash, joint inflammation, and flu-like symptoms, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi transmitted by the bite of a deer tick. See also tick removal.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Lyme disease was first described in the United States in the town of Old Lyme, Connecticut in 1975, but has now been reported in most parts of the United States.

Most cases occur in the Northeast, upper Midwest, and along the Pacific coast. Mice and deer are the most commonly infected animals that serve as host to the tick. Most infections occur in the late spring, summer, and early fall.

The disease can sometimes be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms may mimic other diseases. A characteristic red rash usually occurs at the site of the bite. However, the bite may go unnoticed. A few months to years after the bite, joint inflammation, neurological symptoms, and sometimes heart symptoms may occur.

The initial infection is called primary Lyme disease. From there, secondary Lyme disease and tertiary Lyme disease may develop.

There are more than 16,000 cases of Lyme disease per year in the United States.

Risk factors for Lyme disease include walking in high grasses, other activities that increase tick exposure, and having a pet that may carry ticks home.


Deer ticks can be so small that they are almost impossible to see. Therefore, many people with Lyme disease never even saw a tick. These people are more likely to develop symptoms because the tick remained on their body longer.

The symptoms of Lyme disease include:
  • A flat or slightly raised red lesion at the site of the tick bite (can be larger than 1 to 3 inches in diameter, often with a clear area in the center)
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle pains
  • Stiff neck
  • Joint inflammation in the knees and other large joints
Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease:
  • Itching, overall
  • unusual or strange behavior
Signs and tests
  • Physical examination in advanced Lyme disease may show evidence of joint, heart, or brain abnormalities
  • Antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi by immunofluorescence (IFA) or ELISA. ELISA tests are confirmed with a Western blot test.

Antibiotics are prescribed based on disease stages and manifestations. Doxycycline, tetracycline, cefuroxime, ceftriaxone, and penicillin are some of the choices.

Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, are sometimes prescribed to relieve joint stiffness.

Note: Doxycycline is usually not prescribed for children until after all the permanent teeth have erupted. It can permanently discolor teeth that are still forming.

Expectations (prognosis)

If diagnosed in the early stages, the disease can be cured with antibiotics. If left untreated, complications involving joints, the heart, and the nervous system can occur.

  • Secondary Lyme disease
  • Tertiary Lyme disease
Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if symptoms of Lyme disease develop.


When walking or hiking in wooded or grassy areas, tuck long pants into socks to protect the legs, and wear shoes and long-sleeved shirts. Ticks will show up on white or light colors better than dark colors, making them easier to remove from your clothing. Spray your clothes with insect repellant.

Check yourself and your pets frequently. If you find ticks, remove them immediately by using tweezers, pulling carefully and steadily.

Ticks can be fairly large -- about the size of a pencil eraser -- or so small that they are almost impossible to see. After returning home, remove your clothes and thoroughly inspect all skin surface areas, including your scalp. Ticks can quickly climb up the length of your body. Some ticks are large and easy to locate. Other ticks can be quite small, so carefully evaluate all spots on the skin.

Update Date: 8/7/2003


West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitos and causes an illness that ranges from mild to severe. Mild, flu-like illness is often called West Nile fever. More severe forms of disease, which can be life-threatening, may be called West Nile encephalitis or West Nile meningitis, depending on where it spreads.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

West Nile virus is a type of organism called a flavivirus and is similar to many other mosquito-borne viruses, including Japanese encephalitis (which is found in Asia). Researchers believe the virus is spread when a mosquito bites an infected bird and then bites a person.

West Nile virus was first identified in 1937 in the West Nile region of Uganda, in eastern Africa. It was first identified in the US in the summer of 1999 in the Queens borough of New York, NY. It caused 62 cases of encephalitis and 7 deaths that summer. Since 1999 the virus has spread throughout the continental US and as of July 2004 has been identified in 46 states.

Mosquitos carry the highest amounts of virus in the early fall, thus there is a peak of disease in late August-early September. The risk of disease then decreases as the weather becomes colder and mosquitos die off.

Although many people are bitten by mosquitos that carry West Nile virus, most do not know they've been exposed. Few people develop severe disease or even notice any symptoms at all.

Data from the outbreak in Queens suggests that although 2.6% of the population was infected, only 1 in 5 infected people developed mild illness, and only 1 in 150 infected people developed brain inflammation (meningitis or encephalitis).

Risk factors for developing a worse form of the disease likely include the following:
  • Conditions that suppress the immune system
    • recent chemotherapy
    • recent organ transplantation
    • HIV
  • Pregnancy
  • Older age
West Nile virus may also be spread through blood transfusions and organ transplantation. It is possible for an infected mother to transmit the virus to her child via breast milk.


Mild disease, generally called West Nile fever, has some or all of the following symptoms:
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Back pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Lack of appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
These symptoms usually last for 3 to 6 days.

With more severe disease, the following symptoms can also be seen and require prompt attention:
  • Muscle weakness
  • Stiff neck
  • Confusion or change in clarity of thinking
  • Loss of consciousness
Signs and tests

Signs of West Nile virus infection are similar to those of other viral infections. There is nothing that can be found on physical examination to diagnose West Nile virus infection.

A rash is present in 20-50% of patients. True muscle weakness in the presence of other related symptoms is suggestive of West Nile virus infection.

Diagnostic tests that may be used if West Nile virus is suspected include the following:
  • CBC -- may show a normal or elevated white blood cell (WBC) count
  • Lumbar puncture and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) testing
    • usually shows elevated WBC count (especially lymphocytes)
    • usually shows elevated protein level
  • Head CT scan -- often normal
  • Head MRI scan -- may show evidence of inflammation (in about one-third of patients)
The most accurate way to diagnose this infection is serology, a test to detect the presence of antibodies against West Nile virus in CSF or serum (a blood component). This is considered the gold standard for diagnosis.

Rarely, a sample of blood or CSF may be sent to a lab to be cultured to evaluate the presence of West Nile virus. The virus can also be identified in body fluids using a technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR). However, these methods can provide false negative results.


Because this illness is not caused by bacteria, antibiotics do not help treat West Nile virus infection. Standard hospital care may help decrease the risk of complications in severe illness. There is no human vaccine available at present, and it is likely there will not be one for several years.

Research trials are under way to determine whether ribavirin, an antiviral drug used to treat hepatitis C, may be helpful.

Expectations (prognosis)

In general, the likely outcome of a mild West Nile virus infection is excellent.

For patients with severe cases of West Nile virus infection, the outlook is more guarded. West Nile encephalitis or meningitis has the potential to lead to brain damage and death. Approximately 10% of patients with brain inflammation do not survive.


Complications from mild West Nile virus infection are extremely rare.

Complications from severe West Nile virus infection include permanent brain damage or muscle weakness (sometimes similar to polio), and death.

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you have any of the symptoms of West Nile virus infection, particularly if you may have had contact with mosquitos. If you are severely ill, seek attention in an emergency room.

If you have been bitten by an infected mosquito, there is no treatment to avoid development of West Nile virus infection. People in good general health generally do not develop a serious illness even if bitten by an infected mosquito.


The best way to prevent West Nile virus infection is to avoid mosquito bites. Using mosquito-repellant products containing DEET and wearing long sleeves and pants are the most effective way to avoid bites. Community spraying for mosquitos may also prevent mosquito breeding.

Mosquitos breed in stagnant water. If you notice pools of standing water -- even in small areas such as trash bins and plant saucers -- drain them promptly.

Testing of donated blood and organs is currently being evaluated. There are no guidelines at present.

Update Date: 7/16/2004

I hope this helps a little.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
wow, thanks for the vibes and the great info!
Im disinclined to think its West Nile simply because she has been "sick" for a month now and it is getting progressively worse. It looks like West Nile is bad but for a shorter time.

I'll update to this post after she sees a neurologist (our family doc is at a loss and apparently neurologists know more about Lyme than other specialists)
Thanks everyone--I LOVE TCS PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are the best.
post #6 of 11
My brother had Lyme Disease... he was bit by a tick. It didn't bother him at first, but the bite started hurting after a while.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Just wanted to let everyone know--the doc says my sis has ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER!!!! Minus the characteristic rash. She is now on antibiotic course and she will get better now.

The funny thing is--her symptoms were nausea, vomiting, extreme fatigue, chills, pain etc. The side effects of the medicine: nausea, vomiting, fatigue and stomach pain. She asked me "how will I know if Im better? It looks like I'll still be experiencing the same problems!" She is such a trooper.

Thanks everyone for your good wishes and wonderful information!
post #8 of 11
What is this Rocky Mountain spotted fever? I thought the Rocky Mountains are in Colorado! Im dumb, I know!

But I am glad that she found out what is wrong and can do something about it!
post #9 of 11
Hannah, I'm so glad they found out what was causing the illness and that it can be treated.
Sending her some get well vibes {{{{{}}}}} and a hug to her sweet, concerned sis .
post #10 of 11
I'm glad she got to the doctor and will be getting better. I know when we lived in Oklahoma, we had to watch out for ticks because of Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Fever.

Kiwi, it's transmitted through ticks, and has symptoms that she listed above.
post #11 of 11
I am very glad she is getting treatment now! Even if she gets the side effects of the antibiotic, as long as it isn't getting worse she should stick with the meds.

However, let her know that sometimes when women are on antibiotics, they will get a vaginal yeast infection. She may want to stock up on some medicine from the pharmacy!

Diane, thanks for the great info-very informative about Lyme and West Nile!
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