The body length of a tick usually does not exceed 5 mm, and yet it can play havoc with the body. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of cases of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. Lyme disease is also one of the most frequently diagnosed occupational diseases in Poland. Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose. It has a number of different symptoms that can be confused with other medical conditions.
The published data by the National Institute of Public Health – National Institute of Hygiene show that each year the number of Lyme cases increases. In Poland in 2019 there were over 20,000 cases of Lyme disease. 10 years ago, it was about 4,000 new cases every year. Data for 2020 show that in the period from January 1st to August 15th, 2020, over 7,000 Lyme infections were recorded. In the same period of the previous year, there were over 3,000 more patients. So is 2020 a breakthrough? Do these data show that ticks are becoming less and less dangerous?
Definitely not! According to experts Lidia Stopyra, infectious disease specialist, specialist in paediatrics and infectious diseases, head of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Pediatrics of the Specialist Hospital. S. Żeromski in Krakow, as well as Dr. Jarosław Pacoń from the Department of Parasitology of the University of Life Sciences in Wrocław, the reason for the lower number of Lyme cases in 2020 is the situation related to COVID-19:
„Due to the coronavirus, we had a strict sanitary regime practically from March to May. We spent most of our time at home. There were significantly fewer visits to parks and forests. The bans covered the months of the spring (highest) peak of tick occurrence. At this time, the most hungry forms of attacking hosts appear in the environment. This seems to be the most important cause of fewer cases. ”
– experts explain.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease (Lyme borreliosis) is a tick-transmitted infection caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, involves many different organ systems. Three stages of the disease may occur: (1) early localized form – lasting from 3 to 40 days after being bitten by an infected tick, (2) early disseminated form – develops several weeks or months after infection, (3) late form – develops in the period from one to several years after infection.
Lyme disease can have different symptoms. The most common symptoms of Lyme disease are:
- root pain,
- enlarged lymph nodes,
- heart inflammation,
- inflammation of the retina and choroid.
It is very difficult to diagnose due to the variety of symptoms it can cause. The tick bite is painless, so very often we do not know that the tickremains in our body. Everyone is exposed to a tick bite, not only people in forests and parks. Ticks feel good also in the immediate vicinity of our home.
As Rafał Reinfuss, vice president of the Lyme Patients Association, said in an interview with Onet:
„In the Lyme disease community, we observe a whole group of young people who are nowadays walking on crutches, in wheelchairs or otherwise disabled. If they had been successfully diagnosed earlier and had been properly treated, they would have been able to function normally, live better. “
Lyme disease – treatment
A tick bite is painless. The tick attacks various places on the body, therefore we do not always see whether there was a bite at all, or when it took place. Lyme disease is a disease caused by bacteria. Antibiotics are used to treat it. Unfortunately, antibiotics do not guarantee a full cure. The complications and effects of this disease may also persist after the end of antibiotic therapy. That is why supportive therapies or even rehabilitation are often necessary.
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Not every tick is infected with Borrelia burgdorferi. Not every tick bite will result in Lyme disease or other tick-borne disease. Even so tick bite should not be ignored. The effects of Lyme disease are devastating for the body, so quick tick removal is the first step in staying healthy.
- Dariusz Krzyczmanik, Halina Sińczuk-Walczak, Tomasz Wittczak, Aleksandra Cyran, Cezary Pałczyński, Jolanta Walusiak-Skorupa: BORELIOZA W PRAKTYCE LEKARZA MEDYCYNY PRACY. Medycyna Pracy 2012, 63(4): 483-492.
- Hofhuis A, van de Kassteele J, Sprong H, van den Wijngaard CC, Harms MG, Fonville M, et al. (2017) Predicting the risk of Lyme borreliosis after a tick bite, using a structural equation model. PLoS ONE 12(7): e0181807.
- John J Halperin: Chronic Lyme disease: misconceptions and challenges for patient management. Infection and Drug Resistance 2015, 8: 119-128.
- https://www.medonet.pl/kleszcze-i-borelioza-wszystko-co-musisz-wiedziec,borelioza–mniej-zachorowan-w-2020-r–dlaczego–opinia-ekspertow–raport-medonetu-,artykul,01323728.html (in Polish)
- https://www.medonet.pl/zdrowie/zdrowie-dla-kazdego,rekordowa-liczba-zachorowan-na-borelioze–czy-tego-niechlubnego-rekordu-mozna-uniknac-,artykul,1702701.html (in Polish)