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Speedy Test for Lyme Disease Could Help Us Treat It in Time

Lyme disease and the ticks that transmit it are spreading across the U.S. with 300,000 new Lyme disease cases recorded each year. Lyme is often hard to detect, with doctors usually relying on its classic “bullseye” rash to make a final diagnosis. Now, according to New Scientist, a new test for Lyme may help doctors quickly identify it as Lyme, specifically. This is important because a similar, less severe, tick disease exhibits a similar rash; however, Lyme requires a different antibiotic.

Lyme disease is a pervasive illness that can imitate any number of other conditions, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, neurological symptoms, cognitive deficits and multiple sclerosis, to name a few. Since symptoms obviously often baffle physicians, a speedy test for Lyme is certainly a welcome tool in fighting it.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection primarily transmitted by ticks that have previously fed on an infected host, although some experts believe it’s possible it may also be spread by fleas, mites, spiders or mosquitoes. No matter the host, it remains one of the most serious and controversial epidemics today. The disease usually starts with fatigue, fever, headaches and joint or muscle pain.

It can then progress to muscle spasms, loss of motor coordination, intermittent paralysis, meningitis and even heart problems, so you can see why it’s vitally important to diagnose it as quickly as possible. Since it’s a bacterium, it’s treated with antibiotics.

Also, since the treatment for Lyme is challenging and often controversial, the best thing to do is to take prevention seriously. Try to avoid known tick-infested areas such as leaf piles, logs or wooden stumps. Wear light-colored long pants and long sleeves when you’re walking along grassy and wooded areas, and tuck your pants into your socks.

Also wear closed shoes and a hat, and check your body from head to toe for ticks once you’re back inside.
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