By Riva Preil
After several months, the disease progresses to the third stage, late disseminated phase, if untreated. By this point, the disease has spread throughout the body and to multiple organs which severely impairs one’s ability to function. The joint pain intensifies and the neurological symptoms and pain (called Bannwarth syndrome) worsen. Permanent paresis may be present in the most severe cases. Cognitive changes such as short term memory loss and concentration difficulty may be present due to Lyme encephalopathy. Furthermore, personality changes, psychosis, anxiety, panic attacks, and depersonalization (a feeling of detachment from oneself) may occur.
Considering the horrible progression of the disease just described, it is important to be mindful of prevention and treatment tips, especially if you engage in activities that put you at greater risk of exposure to infected ticks. First of all, the more covered you are, the more protected you are! Tick bites can’t penetrate through one’s clothing, so be sure to wear clothing which minimizes skin exposure while camping to decrease risk of being bitten. In addition, it is important to inspect your body after hikes and camping trips, especially because tick bites, which are not necessarily painful, may go unnoticed by a bitten individual. If you notice a bite, especially if it develops into the bull’s-eye rash described above, speak with your primary care physician and request that you be screened for Lyme disease. Early detection means faster recovery via antibiotic treatment. It will prevent the disease from progressing to later, more debilitating stages which often involve lengthy and expensive intravenous antibiotic treatment regiments. Please refer here for more information and useful tips. Also, for more information about Lyme disease, please watch Under Our Skin, a documentary (available on Netflix, poster above) from director Andy Abraham Wilson.