Definition of Lyme disease
Lyme disease is an inflammatory disease spread through a tick bite.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium (. Certain ticks carry these bacteria. The ticks pick up the bacteria when they bite mice or deer that are infected with Lyme disease. You can get the disease if you are bitten by an infected tick.
Not everyone infected with these bacteria gets ill. If a person does become ill, the first symptoms resemble the flu and include:
Signs and tests
A blood test can be done to check for antibodies to the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. The most commonly used is the ELISA for Lyme disease test. A western blot test is done to confirm ELISA results.
Everyone who has been bitten by a tick should be watched closely for at least 30 days.
If diagnosed in the early stages, Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics. Without treatment, complications involving the joints, heart, and nervous system can occur.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 2/23/2010