Lyme Disease Slideshow: Watch & Learn About Lyme Disease

Reviewed by William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR on Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lyme disease is an illness caused by a bacterium called a "spirochete" (Borrelia burgdorferi) and transmitted by infected ticks (Ixodes scapularis & Ixodes pacificus).

This engorged tick is infected with the bacterium spirochete.

Lyme disease is caused by an infected tick biting people or animals.
The tick latches onto skin, where it then feeds on blood.

A 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 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 has been reported most often in the northeastern United States, but it has been reported in all 50 states.

Lyme disease is medically described in three phases.

There are three phases of Lyme disease.

Lyme disease initially affects the skin, causing an
expanding reddish rash similar to a target or bull's-eye.

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.

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).

The later phases of Lyme disease can inflame the heart muscle, cause facial paralysis, meningitis, and arthritis.

Doctors can diagnose Lyme disease by process of elimination.

Doctors can diagnose Lyme disease by process of elimination.

Most Lyme disease is curable with antibiotics.

Most Lyme disease is curable with antibiotics, depending on the stage of the disease.

Swollen and painful joints can be treated by arthrocentesis, a
procedure that removes fluid from the joint by needle and syringe.

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.

When outdoors, guard yourself from Lyme disease by using insect repellant and wearing long clothing to protect skin.

Vaccines for Lyme disease were pulled in 2002, pending further research.

Vaccines for Lyme disease were pulled in 2002, pending further research.

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