Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by the Borrelia bacterium which is spread by ticks. It is characterized by an expanding circle-shaped non-itchy rash which looks like a “bull’s eye”; this appears about a week after the tick bite. This is often accompanied by fever, headache, and fatigue. Without treatment, the infected individual may experience joint pains, facial paralysis, neck stiffness, and swelling.

Unfortunately, even with treatment, around 20% of infected patients still present with joint pains, fatigue, and memory problems for at least six months. The risk for infection is small if the tick is removed within 36 hours. When it is likely that the tick is a carrier of the Borrelia bacterium, a single dose of doxycycline, an antibiotic, is administered. It got its name from the towns “Lyme” and “Old Lyme” in Connecticut. A cluster of cases were identified in these areas in 1975.

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