Lyme disease is a bacterial infection (Borrelia burgdorferi) often transmitted by a bite from an infected deer tick (Ixodes scapularis). Ticks are found in wooded areas and yards. Ticks crawl (not jump) onto a host and bury their mouthparts into the skin in order to feed off the host's blood. They may remain undetected by the host for several days before dropping off when they are done feeding.
One of the earliest symptoms of Lyme disease is an expanding red rash. Only 60-80% of infected people will develop the rash. Other warning signs are flu-like symptoms including:
- Joint pain
- Muscle aches
- Swollen glands
It is important to be aware of these symptoms and consult a physician when experiencing them. Blood tests are available for Lyme disease detection, however, tests may not always detect the disease in some individuals.
Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose. It usually takes 4-6 weeks after infection for enough antibodies to be produced to be detected in a blood test. If caught early, Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics. Untreated, it can cause serious complications of the central nervous system, joints, eyes, and heart. Contact your physician early if you think you may have Lyme disease.
View ways to steer clear of ticks and Lyme disease