Lyme disease is an inflammatory disease transmitted through the bite of a deer tick carrying the spiral-shaped bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Symptoms can include skin rash, joint inflammation, fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle pain. Lyme disease is also called Lyme borreliosis.
Lyme disease is an inflammatory, systemic disease, meaning that it affects multiple body systems. Although clinical signs of Lyme disease have been reported for more than 100 years, the disease was not recognized as a distinct illness until 1975, when a cluster of unusual arthritis cases in Lyme, Connecticut, led physicians to discover that town residents living near heavily wooded areas were most affected by arthritis and other symptoms. Tick bites were then linked to the cause of the arthritis cases. Borrelia burgdorferi, the spiral-shaped bacterium called a spirochete, that causes Lyme disease, was not discovered until 1981 by Willy Burgdorfer.
Although Lyme disease is easily treated, it is not easily diagnosed, since symptoms are often attributed to other conditions. If not treated early and properly with antibiotics, Lyme disease can have long-term and disabling effects. In its early stages, Lyme disease affects the skin and produces flu-like symptoms; the disease spreads to the joints and nervous system in its later stages.
Jennifer E. Sisk MA, Thomson Gale, Gale, Detroit,