Autumn leaves and Lyme disease anxiety

A picture arrived in my inbox this morning, my friends' adorable one-and-a-half-year old son playing in a giant pile of freshly fallen leaves. His chubby cheeks are rosy and he's smiling like an imp. But the picture made me itchy and uncomfortable. Immediately, I thought of Erythema migrans, or "bull's eye rash," which is a common symptom of bacterial infection in the early stages of Lyme disease. The rash is caused by the bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease. The Bull's eye rash appears as a red, slightly itchy skin rash with a clear, or whitish central area. However, Erythema migrans is not always a symptom present in patients with Lyme disease.

Lyme disease symptoms don't always show up in the form of a rash, although many people believe the bullseye rash is the most common type of symptom. Other symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, and arthritic pain in the joints. Many people pass off the fatigue and headache as common exhaustion from an overly-busy schedule. The disease is stealthy, not always directly signaling that something's wrong.

Ticks naturally thrive during the warm summer months, but due to warmer weather in the fall and winter, it is still crucial to check for ticks, many of which carry the Lyme disease bug, AKA Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium. In many cases, the evidence suggests that if a tick is found on the body, its removal within 24 hours can prevent it from downloading its toxins into the skin. After a long struggle with Lyme disease and its crushing symptoms, my enjoyment of some of life's simple pleasures has been tainted, such as a picture of a cute little nature imp in a pile of leaves.