What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted through tick bites. The infection resulting from these bites causes swelling, joint pain, rash, and flu-like symptoms. The disease can affect the nervous system, as well, causing headaches, dizziness, and other symptoms.
Infectious Disease Spotlight
Lyme disease is spread by the deer tick (species Ixodes scapularis) in the northeastern United States and the western black-legged tick (species lxodes pacificus) in the Pacific Northwest. These ticks are typically found in wooded areas where deer are present. The tick carries the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium, which it passes to humans when it bites them. Lyme disease occurs in approximately 30,000 people each year in the United States (Source: NIAID).
Lyme disease begins with the appearance of a red spot at the site of the tick bite within days to weeks following the bite. The spot may expand into a circular or oval-shaped rash and resemble a bull’s-eye: red in the center with alternating circles of white and red around it. This rash is known as erythema migrans and is unique to Lyme disease. Eventually, the rash will spread to different sites on the body. Additional symptoms include fever, aches, stiff neck, and other flu-like symptoms.
The symptoms of Lyme disease can be serious and may worsen without treatment. Untreated cases can lead to chronic arthritis (inflammation of the joints), swelling or inflammation of the nerve that controls facial muscles, and even paralysis. Seek prompt medical care if you experience rash, fever, muscle aches, headache, or other symptoms of Lyme disease after being bitten by a tick.
What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
Symptoms of Lyme disease include rash, fever, aches and swelling. You may feel like you have the flu. Left untreated, symptoms can become more serious and include joint swelling and arthritis (inflammation of the joints), especially of the knees. Lyme disease can also affect the nervous system causing stiffness, headache, loss of muscle tone, and even paralysis.... Read more about lyme disease symptoms
What causes Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by a tick bite. These ticks, the deer tick in the Northeast and the western black-legged tick in the Pacific Northwest, carry the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes the disease. The bacterium usually lives in rodents and other small animals and is transmitted when a tick bites an infected animal and then bites a human.... Read more about lyme disease causes
How is Lyme disease treated?
If you suspect that you have Lyme disease, your health care provider will perform a series of tests, including drawing your blood to determine whether you have antibodies to the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Not all of these blood tests are conclusive for Lyme disease, but your doctor will consider the test results together with your symptoms to make a diagnosis.... Read more about lyme disease treatments