Lyme Disease

  • Basics

    Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that causes a rash and flu symptoms, and can affect the joints, heart, and nervous system Figure 01. Lyme disease was first recognized in 1975 after a cluster of arthritis cases appeared in rural communities surrounding Lyme, Connecticut. Cases have now been diagnosed throughout the US and Europe, with particular concentrations in New England and the Middle Atlantic states, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and coastal and wooded areas of California and Oregon.

    Click to enlarge: Distribution of Lyme Disease Cases in the United States

    Figure 01. Distribution of Lyme Disease Cases in the United States

    Lyme disease can usually be cured with antibiotics, especially in the early stages. A vaccine is also available, and is recommended for people who live in areas endemic for Lyme disease, and who spend time out of doors in woody or grassy environments.

  • Causes

    Lyme disease is transmitted from bacteria carried by ticks Figure 02. Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, the spiral-shaped bacteria that are carried by Ixodes ticks. Humans can be infected when bitten by infected Ixodes ticks, which are associated with white-tailed deer and the white-footed mouse.

    Click to enlarge: Deer Ticks

    Figure 02. Deer Ticks

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