Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by a microscopic spirochete named Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) and transferred to pets and humans from the bite of an infected blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) and (Ixodes pacificus) in the Pacific coastal states.
At first, Lyme disease usually causes symptoms such as a rash, fever, headache, and fatigue. But if it is not treated early, the infection can spread to your joints, heart, and nervous system.
Prompt treatment can help you recover quickly. Usually, the tick must be attached to you for 36 to 48 hours or more to spread the bacterium to you.
Early Lyme Disease Symptoms
Early symptoms of Lyme disease start between 3 to 30 days after an infected tick bites you. About 70-80 percent of persons who have contracted Lyme disease will develop a red rash called erythema migrans.
In most cases the rash gets bigger over several days and may feel warm. However, it is usually not painful or itchy. As it starts to get better, parts of it may fade creating a bull’s-eye appearance.
Untreated Lyme Disease
If the infection is not treated, it can spread to your joints, heart, and nervous system.
If untreated symptoms may include: Severe headaches and neck stiffness, facial palsy, which is a weakness in your facial muscles, and arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling.
Lyme Disease Treatment
In most cases Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics. The earlier you are treated, the better; and you’ll have the best chance of fully recovering.
After treatment, some patients may still have pain, fatigue, or difficulty thinking which can last more than 6 months.
If you have symptoms lasting longer than 6 months you might develop post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS). If you have been treated for Lyme disease and still feel unwell, contact your health care provider about how to manage your symptoms.