There are three phases in the progression of Lyme disease, which is sometimes referred to as Lyme borreliosis. Learn how to spot the symptoms of each phase.
Lyme disease is caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. In Switzerland, between 5% and 50% of ticks carry Borrelia bacteria, depending on the area. According to the Federal Office of Public Health, around 10,000 people are infected with Lyme disease every year.
The clinical symptoms of Lyme disease can vary a lot, so it is not always easy to diagnose. There are three phases in the progression of the disease. Catching and treating the disease as early as possible is the best way to ensure a full recovery. Lyme disease is treated by a course of antibiotics. Somewhere between 98% and 99% of patients who receive treatment during the initial phase do not experience any further symptoms. If Lyme disease is not diagnosed early or not treated properly, it can have lasting effects.
A circular rash, also called bull’s-eye rash, develops around the site of the tick bite. The technical name for the rash is erythema migrans. Unlike the harmless but itchy redness of the site of the bite, this rash is not painful or itchy. The rash may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms like fever or aching limbs.
Out of 100 infected patients, 15 reach stage 2, which usually occurs within a few months. In this stage, the disease has spread from the skin to other organs.
The third stage of Lyme disease usually only occurs months or years after the initial bite. Patients may experience the following symptoms:
Even when there are no longer any active bacteria in the body, patients may still experience fatigue, headaches and depression. These symptoms are known as post-treatment Lyme disease or chronic Lyme disease.
Not all stage 3 symptoms can be attributed directly to Lyme disease. Often the symptoms are associated with other disorders such as arthritis, rheumatism, multiple sclerosis or a burnout.
Ticks don’t just spread Lyme disease. They can also transmit a viral infection known as tick-borne encephalitis. The best way to prevent TBE is to have the tick vaccination.