Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease (Lyme Borreliosis)

May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month, a chance for lyme patients, activists and educators to spread information on how to prevent lyme and tick-borne diseases.

Infection occurs through the bite of infected ticks, both adults and nymphs, of the genus ixodes. Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of humans and animals in order to survive. They are called vectors (carriers) because they can feed on a lyme disease-infected animal (such as a mouse), then carry and transmit the lyme bacterium (borrelia burgdorferi) to the next animal or person they bite. link Human infections result from bites by nymphs. Many species of mammals can be infected, and deer act as an important reservoir. There are foci of lyme borreliosis in forested areas of Asia, north-western, central and eastern Europe, and the USA. link The ticks which carry lyme disease can also carry bacterial co-infections, such as babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis. 

Where are the ticks found?

Ticks that carry lyme disease tick can be found anywhere their hosts live, in short, anywhere in the world. They prefer moist shady areas such as:

  • Leaf litter
  • Woodpiles
  • Stonewalls
  • Tall grass, bushy areas and beach grass
  • Areas planted with pachysandra or other ground covers
  • Lawn perimeters where they meet forest, woodlot or garden edges

How to avoid tick bites

Refer to our blog on Tick-Borne Encephalitis

How to remove tick bites

Refer to our blog on Tick-Borne Encephalitis

Tick table

Click here to view the tick table


Some patients develop different types or rashes and some patients, no rash. Estimates of patients who develop a Lyme rash vary widely, ranging from about 30% to 80%. link A CDC report on lyme carditis, which can be fatal reported that only 42% of cases had a rash. link

Symptoms of early lyme disease may present as:

  • a flu-like illness
  • Bell’s palsy (facial drooping)
  • a rash shaped like a bull’s-eye is considered characteristic of lyme disease
bull’s-eye rash

Symptoms of later lyme disease may include:

If untreated, new signs and symptoms of Lyme infection might appear in the following weeks to months. These include:

  • Erythema migrans. The rash may appear on other areas of your body.
  • Joint pain. Bouts of severe joint pain and swelling are especially likely to affect your knees, but the pain can shift from one joint to another.
  • Neurological problems. Weeks, months or even years after infection, you might develop inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain (meningitis), temporary paralysis of one side of your face (Bell’s palsy), numbness or weakness in your limbs, and impaired muscle movement.


Untreated lyme disease can cause: link

  • 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

When to seek medical advice

Very few tick bites lead to Lyme disease. The longer the tick remains attached to your skin, the greater your risk of getting the disease. Lyme infection is unlikely if the tick is attached for less than 36 to 48 hours. As treatment for lyme disease is more effective is started quickly, contact your doctor if you have been bitten by a tick, have symptoms and are in an area where lyme disease is widespread.


If your doctor thinks you might have lyme disease, they’ll prescribe a course of antibiotics. The course of antibiotics may be for 28 days. link

The majority of people with lyme disease get better after antibiotic treatment. This can take months for some people, but the symptoms should improve over time.

People with symptoms of lyme disease that are either severe or last a long time after treatment may be referred to a specialist in hospital for advice and more blood tests.

It is broadly accepted that a sizeable number of patients experience treatment failure and continue to suffer long-term, debilitating symptoms, including pain, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction and other symptoms. This is known as post-treatment lyme disease (PTLD) link