May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Lyme Disease is a tick-borne illness that is found in certain areas of the United States. Take our interactive quiz to "Test Your Knowledge of Lyme Disease" and scroll to view the "ABCs of Lyme Disease" to
ABCs of Lyme Disease
A - Antibiotics
Antibiotics such as doxycycline are used to treat patients with Lyme disease and also prevent disease in people who are at high-risk of developing the disease.
B - Borrelia burgdorferi
In the United States, Lyme disease is caused by the spirochete (spiral-shaped bacteria) Borrelia burgdorferi and the more recently identified species Borrelia mayonii.
C - Co-Infections
Ticks that transmit Lyme Disease may also transmit other disease-causing microbes, including the Babesia species and Anaplasma phagocytophilum.
D - Disease
Lyme disease often begins with a local skin infection, but can progress to involve the joints, heart, and brain if left untreated.
E - Erythema Migrans
Erythema migrans (bull's-eye rash) is one of the hallmarks of Lyme disease, seen in up to 80% of infected individuals. It develops at the tick bite site, usually within 7 days following the bite.
F - Fatigue
Many patients with Lyme disease experience significant fatigue following infection.
G - Get Treatment
Early antibiotic treatment (for example with doxycycline) can resolve clinical symptoms and prevent disease progression.
H - Human Cases
Approximately 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the United States.
I - Ixodes Ticks
The bacterium that causes Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of Ixodes species ticks, which are also referred to as "black-legged" or "deer ticks."
J - Joints
Left untreated, Lyme disease can cause joint inflammation (Lyme arthritis), particularly in large joints like the knee.
K - K-9s and Lyme
Dogs can also become infected with Lyme disease, although only 5% to 10% will experience symptoms.
L - Lyme, CT
Lyme disease is named after the town of Lyme (or Old Lyme), Connecticut, where the infection was first described in a group of children initially believed to suffer from juvenile arthritis.
M - Mouse Reservior
The white-footed mouse is a reservoir for the Lyme disease spirochetal bacterium in the environment.
N - Neuroborreliosis
Neuroborreliosis occurs when the Lyme disease bacterium B. burgdorferi, infects the central nervous system.
O - Other Manifestations
If left untreated, Lyme disease may progress to involve the cranial nerves leading to Bell’s palsy or to other disease manifestations, including arthritis or carditis.
P - Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS)
Symptoms lasting for more than six months after treatment are referred to as PTLDS.
Q - Questions
Patients may have questions after diagnosis and treatment that should be discussed with their health care providers.
R - Repeat Infection
Prior infection with a Lyme disease bacterium does not always protect an individual from reinfection.
S - Serology Assays
Diagnosis of Lyme disease is typically based on serologic assays, which detect antibodies to the Lyme disease bacterium. These tests may be negative in the first few days of contracting the disease, in which case, repeat testing may be indicated.
T - Time to Transmission
In most cases, a tick must be attached for at least 36 hours before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted.
U - Northeast and Upper Midwest States
Most Lyme disease infections occur in the Northeast and Upper Midwest states of the U.S.
V - Vaccine
A Lyme disease vaccine is no longer available in the United States for humans. The manufacturer discontinued production in 2002, citing insufficient consumer demand. New vaccines against Lyme disease are in development, and there is currently a vaccine for dogs.
W - Wooded Areas
Avoid wooded areas with forest and brush where deer and ticks are common.
X - eXamine Body for Ticks
When returning home from tick-infested areas, conduct a full-body "tick check" using a mirror to view all parts of your body and hair.
Y - Young Ticks (Nymphs)
Black-legged tick nymphs look like a poppy seed on your skin and are the most common stage of the tick lifecycle that transmit the bacterium to humans.
Z - Zoonosis
Lyme disease is a zoonosis, a disease of animals that can also be transmitted to humans. In nature, a number of animals can become infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, including rodents and other small animals.