First identified in a group of children in Lyme, Connecticut, Lyme disease has now been found in nearly all states and 18 other countries. Most cases -- more than 95% -- are reported in these 13 states:
Because the symptoms are random and vague (aside from a bull's-eye rash), Lyme disease can be hard to diagnose. Unfortunately, unless Lyme disease is treated promptly, it can also be difficult to cure. For these reasons, people living in high-risk areas should be knowledgeable about Lyme disease.
The first sign of Lyme disease is usually a bull's-eye rash that begins from 3 to 30 days after the bite. This circular rash expands to several inches or more in diameter before disappearing after a few weeks.
Be aware, however, that there's not always a rash, or the rash may look different than a bull's-eye shape.
Other early symptoms -- with or without the rash -- may be flu-like feelings of fatigue, headache, fever, sore throat, chills, or body aches.
You may also have vague pains in...
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria transmitted through the bite of the tiny black-legged, or deer, tick found in the Eastern and Central U.S. and the western black-legged tick in the Pacific West. The riskiest months for Lyme disease are from May through September, when young ticks are likely to be biting.
In humans, the bacteria may cause flu-like symptoms. It invades many tissues -- including the heart and nervous system -- and triggers an immune response that can lead to Lyme arthritis.