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.
Transmission to humans occurs most commonly in the summer when people are most likely to be outdoors and ticks are most active.
What are the risk factors for Lyme disease?
A number of factors increase the risk of developing Lyme disease. Not all people with risk factors will get Lyme disease. Risk factors for Lyme disease include:
- Autoimmune disease (overactive immune response that causes the body to attack its own cells) or other conditions that compromise your immunity
- Contact with animals, especially those that are prone to tick bites
- Exposed skin unprotected by insect repellant and clothing
- Extensive time spent outdoors, especially in the spring and summer
- Extreme youth or advanced age
- Hiking or camping in tick-infested areas
Reducing your risk of Lyme disease
You may be able to lower your risk of Lyme disease by:
- Applying insect repellant containing DEET if you will be outside
- Avoiding areas of potential tick infestation
- Removing leaf debris, brush, and wood piles from your property
- Wearing light-colored clothing (allowing ticks to be more easily spotted and removed)
- Wearing long-sleeved shirts, tucked-in pants, and high boots if entering areas of possible infestation
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, Read more about lyme disease introduction
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
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