Each year many people contract a condition known as Lyme disease. This disease can only be contracted by someone if they are bitten by a certain species of tick that carries a bacterium that is transferred into the bloodstream during the actual biting act. Once infected with Lyme disease, it can take weeks or even months before the first symptoms appear.
Lyme disease is a condition that progresses over time and which can be broken down into three separate stages. The first stage affects only the area around the tick bite and is known as the localized stage. The first symptoms that appear during this stage include a red-colored rash that can last up to five weeks, fatigue, joint aches and pain, headaches and even noticeable swelling of any lymph glands located near the initial bite point.
The second stage of Lyme disease, referred to as the early disseminated stage, does not always start immediately after being bitten by an infected tick. The common symptoms associated with this stage include rashes on parts of the body that were not near the initial tick bite point, headaches, fever, irregular heart rhythm, severe bouts of fatigue and in severe cases even partial facial paralysis.
Finally, there is the third or late stage of Lyme disease. In some cases, years can pass before these final symptoms appear and that is what makes diagnosing this disease difficult at times. Symptoms include arthritis and loss of cognitive functions due to brain damage. Fortunately, if diagnosed early this disease can almost always be treated and with a relatively high success rate. Treatment usually consists of antibiotics to fight the bacterium that is known to cause Lyme disease.
Contrary to popular belief, only one type of tick can actually infect people with Lyme disease. This tick, called the Ixodes tick, can be distinguished from other tick species by its black legs. Even though the Ixodes tick can be found in many places around the world, including Asia, North America and Europe, it is particularly prevalent in northern parts of the United States.