Bacterial and Viral Rashes
Life-Threatening Rashes continued...
Lyme disease is also caused by an organism spread by deer tick bites. Avoiding tick bites is the best defense. The disease has been reported in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, North Central, and Pacific coastal regions of the United States and in Europe. It is most prevalent in the northeastern states of the United States, with about half of all cases clustered in New York and Connecticut.
- Lyme disease starts with a flu-like illness or a characteristic target-like red rash several days to a few weeks following a tick bite.
- The illness consists of a fever, which can range from 100-104°F, headache, muscle and joint aches, a mild sore throat, a cough, stomach upset, neck pain and stiffness, and Bell palsy (a paralysis of the facial nerve that causes your face muscles to be uneven).
- The rash is red and grows in size daily.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines the rash to be a minimum of 3.5 cm (1.5 inches) across to distinguish it from a tick bite, which usually is about the size of a dime or smaller.
- The rash occurs at the site of the tick bite and can grow from the size of a silver dollar to the size of a football.
- Its shape can be circular or oval.
- As it grows, the rash can remain red throughout, although it often can develop a clear area and may take on the appearance of a target with concentric circles of red then clear.
- The early symptoms are not as threatening as what occurs later if the infection is not treated. The organs affected later include the following: the heart (heart rhythm complications), the musculoskeletal system (a chronic arthritis), and the neurological system (brain swelling that causes learning difficulties, confusion, or coma).
- Lyme disease should be treated promptly. If you cannot see your doctor quickly, go to a hospital's emergency department immediately.
- Your doctor treats early Lyme disease with a long course of oral antibiotics. When treated early, nearly all people with Lyme disease experience rapid improvement and minimal complications from the disease.
- A vaccine has been approved for people older than 15 years to prevent Lyme disease (LYMErix), but it is given only to people with significant occupational exposures to Lyme disease.