Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness in North America and Europe. Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdoferi. Deer ticks can harbor the bacteria and spread it to humans when feeding.

Contracting Lyme disease is more likely after spending time in grassy and heavily wooded areas where ticks carrying the disease thrive.

Appropriate treatment in the early stages of the disease can lead to full recovery. On the other hand, in later stages there may be a slower reaction to treatment, although most people recover completely with appropriate treatment.



The symptoms of Lyme disease can vary and usually affect more than one system such as the skin, joints and nervous system.

Early symptoms include:


  • Rash: A small red bump may appear at the site of the tick bite. However, in a few days, the redness may expand and form a rash, called erythema migrans, in a bull’s eye pattern.
  • Flu-like symptoms: Fever, chills, fatigue, body aches and a headache along with the rash.


Later symptoms include:


  • Joint pain: Bouts of severe joint pain and swelling can develop, more likely in the knees.
  • Neurological problems: Inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain (meningitis), temporary paralysis of one side of the face (Bell’s palsy), numbness or weakness in the limbs and impaired muscle movement.


Less common symptoms include:


  • Heart problems such as an irregular heartbeat
  • Eye inflammation
  • Liver inflammation (hepatitis)
  • Severe fatigue



Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdoferi, which is primarily carried by deer ticks. To contract Lyme disease, one has to be bitten by an infected deer tick. The bacteria enter the skin through the bite and make their way into the bloodstream. The tick must be attached to the skin for 36 to 48 hours to transmit Lyme disease. Removing the tick as soon as possible can prevent infection.


Risk factors

The most common risk factors for Lyme disease include:


  • Spending time in wooded or grassy areas
  • Having exposed skin in areas where ticks thrive
  • Not removing ticks promptly or properly



Untreated Lyme disease can cause the following complications:


  • Chronic joint inflammation (Lyme arthritis) particularly of the knee
  • Neurological symptoms such as facial palsy and neuropathy
  • Cognitive defects such as impaired memory
  • Heart rhythm irregularities



The following precautions may help prevent Lyme disease:


  • Wearing long pants and long sleeves in wooded or grassy areas
  • Use insect repellents
  • Tick-proof the yard
  • Check oneself for ticks
  • Remove ticks as soon as possible