Lymedisease is a tick-borne illness caused by the spirochete B burgdorferi. Lymedisease can be divided into early disease (stage 1, EM), disseminated infection (stage 2), and late disease (stage 3, persistent infection). The first stage involves the skin, followed by stages 2 and 3, which often affect the skin, joints, CNS, and heart. However, any of the stages may fail to appear or may overlap with one another
|Localized erythema chronicum migrans||Early infection|
|Disseminated infection||Within days or years|
|Persistent infection||Months to years|
Lyme disease is a bacterial disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacterium is transmitted to humans via a tick bite. Within 1 to 2 weeks after being infected, a “bull’s-eye” rash can develop at the tick bite site accompanied by fever, headache, and muscle or joint pain. Some people may have Lymedisease and not have any early symptoms. However, others can have a fever and other “flu-like” symptoms without a rash.
The first sign of Lyme disease in 70-80% of patients is a red circular rash, called an erythema migrans, around the puncture mark made where the tick pierced the skin. This rash appears after a 3-30 day delay. The most common shape of the rash is an oval 2-3 inches in diameter that usually lasts about 4 weeks. The center of the rash occasionally will lighten resulting in a bull’s-eye appearance. The rash does not itch but may feel warm to the touch. Flu-like symptoms may also develop that often include aches, fever, fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, and headache. Arthritis, cardiac disease, and neurologic disorders may develop if the disease is not properly or promptly treated. Sometimes these more serious symptoms develop without the individual ever having had a rash.
Stage 1: Early localized infection (1 to 4 weeks)
Some people with Lyme disease have a rash (called erythema migrans) at the site of the tick bite. The rash is usually circular and it gets larger over time. Other people don’t have any symptoms in the early stages of Lyme disease and do not remember having had a tick bite. About half the people infected with Lyme disease develop a rash within 1 to 4 weeks.1 See a picture of a Lyme disease rash.
For people who live in areas where Lyme disease most often occurs-in the United States along the Atlantic coast, the Midwest, and parts of Oregon and California-the circular rash can be a sign of Lyme disease, especially when it appears during the summer months.