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LYME DISEASE: A PATIENT'S GUIDE

Glossary

antibodies—Products of white blood cells that are the body's defense against disease. Produced when the body is fighting any type of infection.

bacteria—tiny microscopic organisms having round, rodlike, spiral, or filamentous single-celled or noncellular bodies.

Borrelia burgdorferi—the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

chronic Lyme arthritis—brief bouts of pain and swelling usually occurring in one or more of the large joints, especially the knees.

deer tick—tick of the species Ixodes that is mainly responsible for transmitting Lyme disease in the eastern United States.

DEET(N, N-diethyl-m-toulamide)—the most effective topical insect repellent that may be applied to exposed skin. Solutions containing 20-30% DEET are approximately 90% effective in preventing tick attachment and remain effective for 4 to 8 hours when applied to clothing. DEET should not be inhaled, ingested, or come into contact with the eyes. DEET should be used on clothing and only sparingly on skin. DEET should be washed off the skin when the wearer comes indoors.

disseminated —widely dispersed in a tissue, organ, or the entire body.

early Lyme disease—the first stage of Lyme disease that usually causes one or more of the following symptoms: erythema migrans, fatigue, chills, headache, muscle and joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes. These symptoms occur days to weeks after infection with Borrelia burgdorferi as the result of a tick bite.

early disseminated Lyme disease—the second stage of Lyme disease, in which the infection of bacteria is beginning to spread and is affecting certain body functions. This stage occurs weeks to months after infection.

ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay)—blood test given to test for anti-Borrelia burgdorferi antibodies. This test is given first with the Western Blot, used as a test to confirm infection.

erythema migrans—the skin rash associated with Lyme disease, which occurs as a circular rash that continues to expand and appears 3 days to 1 month after the bite of an infected tick. The center of the rash may clear as it grows, giving it the appearance of a bull's-eye.

fatigue—weariness without known cause.

history—in the context of Lyme disease, history means whether or not a person has a known tick bite; whether a person lives in or has traveled to an endemic area; and whether a person has been in a situation which might expose him/her to a tick bite, i.e. hiking, camping, etc.

late Lyme disease—the third stage of Lyme disease, also called chronic Lyme disease, that can occur weeks to months to years after infection in patients who either did not receive treatment or received inadequate treatment that did not kill all of the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria.

Lyme season—early spring to early autumn, the time when most infection with Borrelia burgdorferi occurs and symptoms begin to appear.

nymph—third stage of life for Ixodes ticks. Nymphs are mainly responsible for infecting humans with Borrelia burgdorferi. The nymph is about the size of a poppy seed.

symptoms—signs of illness.

Western blot (immunoblot)—follow-up blood test for anti-Borrelia burgdorferi antibodies. This test is used to confirm the results of an ELISA test.

western black-legged tick—tick of the species Ixodes that is mainly responsible for transmitting Lyme disease in the western United States.

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