Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium (“spirochete”) called Borrelia burgdorferi. The pathogen was first identified in Lyme, Connecticut in 1975. About 10,000 human cases are diagnosed annually. Lyme symptoms resemble many other diseases, such as spirochete-caused syphilis. Lyme disease has been called the "great masquerader" because blood tests do not always confirm Lyme or rule it out.
Lyme disease symptoms develop in 3 to 32 days and include an initial reddish skin rash at the tick bite site, commonly expanding to cover many inches in diameter and appearing like a ring or bull's-eye. The rash fades, with or without treatment, after a few weeks. Be aware that not all infected people develop this rash.
Early symptoms include flu-like chills, fever, headache, dizziness, fatigue and a stiff neck. Subsequent symptoms include swelling and pain in the joints, especially the knees, that can lead to chronic arthritis, sometimes a year after the bite.
Less common symptoms include heart arrhythmia, weakness in legs, facial paralysis and numbness. Antibiotic therapy is most successful when treatments begin during early stages of the disease development. Lyme is not usually fatal, but it can be debilitating, emotionally as well as physically. A Lyme disease vaccine is being developed, but this may not be available for some time.