Lyme Disease

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is one of the  most common and fastest-spreading tick-borne illnesses in the United States.  It is estimated that as many as 300,000 people contract Lyme disease each year.

First identified in Lyme, Connecticut in 1975, Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected black-legged or “deer” tick (Ixodes scapularis).  

Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migraines.  If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.  

Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tick-borne diseases as well leading to co-infections which can complicate the diagnosis.

Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks.  Laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods.  

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