According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected black-legged ticks. The usual symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migranse. It is often hard to diagnose lyme disease because of these general symptoms that can be mistaken for the flu or a bad cold.
If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks. Laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics.
If you spend time outdoors in an area known for ticks, it is important to check your body for any hitchhikers you may have picked up. If you develop any symptoms, it is best to go to the doctor to be checked. Some steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases as well.
For more tips on staying tick-free, visit https://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/News/BaltimoreCountyNow/stay-safe-and-tick-free .