Disease Name

Lyme Disease

Vector Information

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi which is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick or western blacklegged tick. If left untreated, this disease can cause lifelong health problems. This disease is preventable through prevention of tick bites. 

Ticks can attach to any part of the human body but are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp. In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted. Most humans are infected through the bites of immature ticks called nymphs. Nymphs are tiny (less than 2 mm) and difficult to see; they feed during the spring and summer months. Adult ticks can also transmit Lyme disease bacteria, but they are much larger and are more likely to be discovered and removed before they have had time to transmit the bacteria. Symptom onset is typically 3 to 30 days post tick bite. Erythema migrans rash may appear as a target or bull's-eye and orginates at the site of tick attachment. Later symptoms include severe headaches and neck stiffness; additional erythema migrans rashes; arthritis with severe joint pain; facial palsy; pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones; heart palpitations; dizziness; spinal cord and brain inflammation; nerve pain; and short-term memory problems. Diagnosis must be made by a healthcare provider who will diagnose based on symptoms, presence of the erythema migrans rash, and history or possibility of exposure to an infected tick bite. In certain cases, laboratory tests can confirm Lyme disease infections, but are not recommended for patients who are not presenting normal symptoms of Lyme disease. Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics and treatment typically results in complete recovery. Treatment normally lasts for a few weeks. In rare cases, symptoms may last for more than six months and is termed Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome.