What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is an infection
that is spread by ticks. You can get Lyme disease if you are bitten by an
infected tick. But most people who have had a tick bite do not get Lyme
disease. It’s still important to see your doctor if you have a tick attached to
you that you can't remove.
Lyme disease is common in the United
States. It can also be found in Canada, Europe, and Asia.
What causes Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is caused
by bacteria. Infected ticks spread the bacteria by biting people or
Two types of ticks carry the Lyme disease bacteria in the
U.S. They are:
- Deer ticks . They spread the disease in the Northeast
- Western black-legged ticks . They spread
the disease along the Pacific coast, mostly in northern California and
Remove ticks as soon as you notice them. Infected
ticks usually don't spread Lyme disease until they have been attached for at
least 36 hours.
What are the symptoms?
One sign of Lyme disease
is a round, red rash that spreads at the site of a tick
bite. This rash can get very large.
Flu-like symptoms are also
very common. People in the early stages of Lyme disease may feel very tired and
have headaches, sore muscles and joints, and a fever.
symptoms can start at any time, from 3 days up to a month after you have been
bitten. Some people don't have any symptoms when they are in the early stages
of Lyme disease. And they may not even remember getting a tick bite.
If Lyme disease goes untreated, you can have more serious symptoms over
time. These include:
- Swelling and joint pain (like
- Tingling and numbness in your
hands, feet, and back.
- A lack of energy that does not get better.
- Trouble focusing your thoughts.
- Poor memory.
- Weakness or
paralysis in your face muscles.
How is Lyme disease diagnosed?
Your doctor will
ask you questions about your symptoms. A round, red rash may be a sign of Lyme
disease. Your doctor will also ask about your activities to try to find out if
you have been around infected ticks. You may have a blood test to see if you
antibodies in your blood that could mean you have the
How is it treated?
The main treatment for Lyme
antibiotics. These medicines usually cure Lyme disease
within 3 weeks of starting treatment.
It’s important to get
treatment for Lyme disease as soon as you can. Talk to your doctor if you have
had a tick attached to your skin, especially if you live in an area where Lyme
disease has been reported. Look for early signs of the disease, such as a
round, red rash that gets bigger or symptoms like those you'd get with the