Lyme Disease Slideshow: See Pictures of Symptoms and Treatment
Reviewed by William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR on Monday, June 23, 2014
Lyme disease is an illness caused by a bacterium called a "spirochete" (Borrelia burgdorferi) and transmitted by infected ticks (Ixodes scapularis & Ixodes pacificus).
Lyme disease is caused by an infected tick biting people or animals. The tick latches onto skin, where it then feeds on blood.
Lyme disease gets its name from the unusual grouping of illness made aware by mothers of infected children in Lyme, Connecticut, in 1975.
Lyme disease has been reported most often in the northeastern United States, but it has been reported in all 50 states.
Lyme disease initially affects the skin, causing an expanding reddish rash similar to a target or bull's-eye.
If left untreated, weeks to months after the rash, the bacterium and its effects can spread throughout the body to affect the joints, heart, and nervous system.
The later phases of Lyme disease can inflame the heart muscle, cause facial paralysis (left), meningitis, and arthritis (right).
Swollen and painful joints can be treated by arthrocentesis, a procedure that removes fluid from the joint by needle and syringe.
When outdoors, guard yourself from Lyme disease by using insect repellant and wearing long clothing to protect skin.
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