Monday, June 24, 2019
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Lyme Disease

Lyme borreliosis, Lyme arthritis)

What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is an illness caused by a bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, transmitted to humans by a tiny tick named Ixodes scapularis (commonly called the deer tick). Lyme disease may cause signs and symptoms affecting the skin, nervous system, heart, and/or joints of an infected person. More than 12,000 cases of the disease have been reported in Wisconsin residents since surveillance for Lyme disease began in 1980.

Why is it called Lyme disease?
The first cluster of human illnesses associated with this bacterium was described near the town of Lyme, Connecticut during the mid 1970's.

Who gets Lyme disease?
Males and females of all ages can get Lyme disease but children less than 16 years old and adults more than 40 years old appear to be at higher risk. People who spend time outdoors in tick-infested environments are at increased risk of exposure and exposure can occur whenever the temperature at ground level is warm enough for ticks to be active. In Wisconsin, most cases have occurred among persons living in the western half of the state.

How is Lyme disease spread?
In Wisconsin, the disease is acquired by a tick bite from an infected deer tick. The bite of a tick is usually painless. Only nymph and female adult deer ticks transmit Lyme disease to humans and the tick must be attached for at least 24 hours to transmit the disease.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
Most Lyme disease case patients report their symptoms beginning during the late spring and summer months (May through August). The illness often, but not always, starts as a roughly circular reddish rash (called erythema migrans) around or near the site of the tick bite. The rash expands in size over a period of days or weeks. During the rash stage, other symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, stiff neck, muscle and/or joint pain may be present. These signs and symptoms may last for several weeks. If left untreated, complications such as meningitis, facial palsy, heart abnormalities, and arthritis may occur within a few weeks to months after the initial onset of symptoms.

How soon do symptoms occur?
Early symptoms usually begin within a month of exposure. Arthritic, cardiac, and neurologist complications may take weeks or months to appear in untreated persons.

Does past infection with Lyme disease make a person immune?
Although past infection provides some immunity, this immunity is relatively short-lived. Therefore it is possible for a person to get infected more than once.

What is the treatment for Lyme disease?
The disease is treated with oral or injectable antibiotics. Lyme disease is more easily treated when detected early. Exposed persons should monitor their health and promptly see a health care provider if signs and symptoms consistent with Lyme disease (such as erythema migrans rash) develop. Remember, an infected tick must be attached for more than 24 hours to successfully transmit B. burgdorferi to humans.

Is there a vaccine to prevent infection?
No. Although there had been a vaccine against human Lyme disease, this vaccine is no longer marketed.

What can be done to prevent the spread of Lyme disease?
If you are in areas where ticks may be present, the following precautions may reduce the risk of acquiring Lyme disease:

  • Insect repellents containing 0.5% permethrin or 20-30% DEET have been shown to be effective in repelling deer ticks. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions on the label.

  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and high socks with pant cuffs tucked into the socks. Light colored clothing will make ticks easier to find.

  • Walk in the center of mowed trails to avoid brushing up against vegetation.

  • Conduct thorough "tick checks" on yourself and your children after spending time in tick-infected areas. Prompt removal of ticks, even after they have attached, can drastically reduce the chance of Lyme disease transmission.

How should a tick be removed?
To remove an attached tick, grasp it with narrow-bladed tweezers or forceps as close as possible to attachment (skin) site, and pull upward and out with a firm and steady tension. If tweezers are not available, use fingers shielded with tissue paper or rubber gloves. Do not handle with bare hands. Be careful not to squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick which may contain infectious fluids. After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash hands. See or call a doctor if there is a concern about incomplete tick removal. It is important that a tick be properly removed as soon as it is discovered.



MADISON—The warm spring in Wisconsin has triggered more deer tick activity than usual in many parts of the state, leading health officials to urge precautions against tick bites when outdoors. Infected deer ticks can carry Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
Noting that May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, Dr. Seth Foldy, State Health Officer, said that Lyme disease illnesses in 2009 remained at high levels. In Wisconsin a total 2,580 cases of Lyme disease were reported in 2009 compared to 2,048 cases in 2008. May through August is the peak period for deer tick bites.
“The key to preventing Lyme disease is avoiding tick bites and to find and remove ticks promptly,” Foldy said. “Rapid detection and removal of ticks also prevents disease because a tick must be attached for at least 24 hours to cause disease. Because they are small, between the size of a poppy and sesame seed, people should inspect themselves and their children and pets in good light as soon as possible after being outdoors.”
Although a characteristic “bulls-eye” rash may occur 3 days to 30 days after the bite of an infected tick, this does not always occur. Lyme disease can result in arthritis, and serious heart and nervous system problems. The disease is treated with antibiotics, and is more easily treated when detected early.
People can take steps to avoid tick bites and reduce the chance of getting Lyme disease:

• Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter since ticks prefer these areas. Stay to the center of a trail to avoid contact with grass and brush.
• Use effective tick repellants and apply according to the label instructions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults use repellants with 20-30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing to prevent tick bites. Repellants that contain permethrin can also be applied to clothing.
• Wear clothes that will help shield you from ticks. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants are best. Tuck your pants into the top of your socks or boots, to create a “tick barrier.” Light-colored clothing make ticks easier to spot.
• Landscape homes and recreational areas to reduce the number of ticks and create tick-safe zones by using woodchips or gravel along the border between lawn and wooded area. Continue to remove leaf litter and clear tall grass and brush around the houses throughout the summer. • Check frequently for ticks, and remove them promptly. Deer ticks are small and may be difficult to find, so tick checks must be done on all parts of the body carefully and thoroughly. It is important to pay special attention to areas where ticks tend to hide such as the head, scalp, and body folds (armpit, behind the knee, groin).
• Remove attached ticks slowly and gently, using a pair of thin-bladed tweezers applied as close to the skin as possible. The goal is to pull the tick’s head away from the skin, but not to squeeze the body of the tick. Folk remedies like petroleum jelly, nail polish remover or burning matches are not a safe or effective ways to remove ticks.
• Protect your pets from tick bites by checking your dog or cat for ticks before allowing them inside. While a vaccine can prevent Lyme disease in pets, it will not stop the animal from carrying infected ticks into the home. Speak to your veterinarian about topical tick repellant available for pets.
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