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What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection resulting from the bite of an infected tick. The most common type of tick that carries the bacteria is the tiny deer tick, or black–legged tick, which is about the size of a poppy seed. Lyme disease can also be spread by the lone star tick.

A tick picks up the Lyme disease bacteria, called Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi), when it bites an animal that is infected with it (sometimes, lyme disease is referred to as lyme borreliosis). These bacteria are classified as spirochetes because of their spiral shape. Infectious lyme spirochetes, (not tics), are found in human breast milk, tears, urine and semen and can be found in mosquitos, mites, fleas and biting flies; so though tics may be the most common means of lyme disease...

A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop Lyme disease with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing Lyme disease. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Anyone who lives in an area where there are ticks has a risk of being bitten by a Lyme disease-infected tick. An increased risk is usually directly related to the amount of time a person spends outdoors in areas where there are a lot of ticks.

Geographic Location

Lyme disease is found most often in three geographic locations in the US. These are:

  • The northeastern and mid-Atlantic region: Maine to...

The symptoms of Lyme disease can be confusing and differ among infected persons both in their nature and in their severity. Some people may not have any symptoms at all, but Lyme disease may still be diagnosed through a blood test. Lyme disease may be misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome.

Lyme disease progresses through different stages with varying and sometimes overlapping symptoms. Symptoms include the following:

Early Infection

These symptoms typically occur within 3-32 days of a tick bite.


Some infected people first notice a red rash, known as erythema migrans (EM) The rash starts as a small red spot at the site of the tick bite and expands over a period of days or weeks, forming a circular- or oval-shaped rash. The infectious spirochetes...

The diagnosis of Lyme disease is usually based on the presence of symptoms and signs of the disease. If you have removed an attached tick from your body, tell your doctor. For 30 days after being bitten, you should watch closely for the characteristic “bulls-eye” rash at the site of the bite, or a fever. If you think you develop these or any other symptoms, see your doctor immediately. You are much less likely to develop Lyme disease if the tick had been attached to you for less than 24 hours. Treatment with appropriate antibiotics after a tick bite, while not endorsed by all experts, may also reduce your risk.

Presently, there are no tests that are completely accurate in diagnosing Lyme disease; many tests result in false positives or false negatives. However, your doctor may...

The keys to reducing the risk of Lyme disease are to:

  • Avoid ticks in the areas where you live and work
  • Protect yourself from getting a tick on your body

Reduce or Avoid Tick Habitats

Reducing or avoiding tick habitats can reduce your chances of being bitten. To do this:

  • Avoid moist, shaded, wooded, or brushy areas.
  • When walking in the outdoors, stay on cleared, well-traveled paths, and walk in the center of trails to avoid overgrown grass and brush.
  • Avoid sitting on the ground or on stonewalls.
  • Remove leaf litter, brush, and woodpiles from around your home and the edges of your yard.
  • Mow the grass often.
  • Discourage animals that carry ticks from coming onto your property.

Wear Proper Clothing

Proper clothing can...

American Lyme Disease Foundation


American Lyme Disease Foundation, Inc.
PO Box 466
Lyme, CT 06371

E-mail Address:

Internet address:

Description of Services Provided:

This site provides a thorough review of Lyme disease, including symptoms, treatment, and vaccines. Some of their information is available in Spanish.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30333,


(404) 639-3311
(404) 639-3534
(800) 311-3435

Internet address:

Description of Services Provided:

Among their "Health Topics A to Z," the CDC offers reliable...

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