What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by infection with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi.
How is Lyme disease spread?
The bacteria that cause Lyme disease are transmitted through the bites of infected ticks. In the Eastern U.S., the only tick known to spread Lyme disease is the blacklegged tick (formerly called the “deer tick”). Spread of the Lyme disease bacteria from an infected tick to a person is not likely to occur unless the tick has been attached to the person’s body for at least 36 hours. Lyme disease is not known to be spread to humans from other insects or animals, or from one person to another. It occurs most commonly during the late spring and early summer months, but can occur during the fall and winter.
What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
How is Lyme disease diagnosed and treated?
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. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics.
How can Lyme disease be prevented?
Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases as well.
Where can I get more information about Lyme disease?