All you need to know about Lyme disease

January 16, 2024 by No Comments

Bella Hadid, an American supermodel, recently spoke out about the Lyme disease she has suffered from since childhood. Bella Hadid is among those who still suffer from the effects of a tick bite, even years later. Happiest Health spoke with experts to better understand the condition and simple prevention measures to avoid it.

What is Lyme Disease?

When a tick carrying the Borrelia Burgdorferi bacteria infects a person, it causes Lyme disease. Dr John Paul M., consultant physician for travel medicine and infectious diseases at Sparsh Hospital in Bengaluru, says that this infection is rare in India. All the cases reported in India are sporadic and involve people who have traveled. “It is not identified locally in India,” says he. Tickborne infections are endemic in certain states of the US, particularly the northeastern region and the north-central region.

Dr. Paritosh Baghel is an Indian internal medicine consultant who shares that rickettsia is the most common tickborne disease in India. Scrub Typhus, another native infection.

Soon after a tick bite is infected, signs of illness can be seen. The tiny tick latches onto the skin. Even the person who is bitten can see it over the next two-day period, as the bug grows up to tenfold its original size,” says Dr Paul.

Tickborne infections can cause a variety of symptoms

Dr Paul explains the initial symptoms of Lyme Disease.


  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Myalgia is a condition that causes muscle pain and aches.
  • Poor appetite
  • Bull’s-eye shaped rashes on the skin called erythema migrants

Incubation periods range from three to thirty days. It is easy to confuse it with other febrile illnesses, such as dengue, if the doctor does not suspect possible tick bite exposure.

Dr Paul says that when treated properly, the majority of people infected recover within the first phase. As bacteria can spread to different parts of the body through blood, symptoms may vary. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if the infection is not treated, it can spread to the nervous system, heart, and joints. According to Dr Baghel, neurological symptoms can include facial paralysis and altered sensorium (parts of the brain that receive and interpret sensory input). Lyme carditis is a cardiac complication caused by bacteria infecting the heart tissue.

Lyme disease diagnosis

Doctors will first examine a patient’s travel history to see if they exhibit typical Lyme symptoms. We ask about hiking, off-roading, or wading in unmaintained areas which may have an overgrowth of vegetation. “We also ask if they have been involved in clearing fields (agricultural), where ticks may be present,” Dr Paul explains.

He recalls a case where Lyme was discovered in an accident in a patient with lung lesions and febrile illness. The condition is difficult to detect in India. “We rarely come across cases like this, which creates a diagnostic problem unless we have the travel history,” explains Dr Baghel. Dr Baghel says that it is important to disclose the location of recent travels to a doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

When tickborne infections are suspected, Dr Paul recommends the Lyme Antibody test ( ELISA), where antibodies against the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi can be seen.

Is Lyme Disease curable?

This infection can be easily cured if it is diagnosed early and treated using the correct antibiotics. In some cases, the clinical symptoms and travel history match. They are treated empirically, as the infection responds to antibiotics such as Doxycycline.

Doctors suggest treatment in accordance with CDC guidelines if the infection progresses past the initial stages.

How to prevent Lyme Disease

Dr Baghel clarifies that Lyme disease is vector-borne, and it does not spread between infected individuals. He says that one way to prevent the disease is by being aware of what’s prevalent in the area and then preparing for it. This is especially important when going on a forest tour or trek. He explains that wearing protective clothing and using mosquito repellants can also help. Also, medical research is underway to prevent Lyme.


  • Lyme disease, a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks, is most common in the United States. The infected tick can enter and engorge the human body.
  • A physician may be able to make the right diagnosis if you reveal your travel history. Antibiotics can be used to cure the infection before it spreads.
  • Experts say that it is important to be aware of the common infections in a particular region before going on a tour or trekking.

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