Frequently asked questions

What is Lyme Disease?


Lyme disease is a tick-borne infection caused by the spirochete bacteria - Borrelia Burgdorferi. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, joint pains, muscle pains and maybe a skin rash called erythema migrans (ER). Lyme disease is the most prevalent tick-borne infection in the U.S. and around the world. It is an epidemic that has 476,000 cases reported yearly. If not treated early, Lyme disease can cause chronic debilitating illness that is difficult and controversial to treat.




What is a vector-borne illness?


Vectors are living organisms that can transmit infectious diseases from animals to humans. Many of these vectors are bloodsucking species, including ticks, which ingest disease-producing microorganisms during a blood meal from an infected host (human or animal) and later inject it into a new host during their subsequent blood meal.




How many bites does it take to get Lyme Disease?


Only one bite.




What is a tick?


A tick is an acarine (a small arachnid/spider) of the families Ixodidae (hard ticks) or Argasidae (soft ticks), which contain many bloodsucking species that are pests of humans, domestic birds and mammals. They probably exceed all other anthropods in the number and variety of disease agents that they transmit.




Why is Lyme called the "Great Imitator"?


Diagnosing Lyme can be difficult. Many people who actually have Lyme may be misdiagnosed with other conditions. Lyme is called “The Great Imitator,” because its symptoms mimic many other diseases, such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Carditis, Depression, Dementia, etc. It can affect any organ of the body, including the brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, and the heart. Fewer than 50% of people infected ever recall being bitten by a tick. The hallmark “bullseye rash” (or any rash) occurs in less than 50% of cases.




Do you always get a bull's eye rash (erythema migrans)?


No! Fewer than 50% of people infected ever recall being bitten by a tick. The hallmark "bullseye rash" (or any rash) occurs in less than 50% of cases.




Who are at the highest risk for contracting Lyme disease?


Lyme disease affects people of all ages. The CDC notes that it is most common in children, boys 5 to 10 years old since they are likely to be playing outside and men in their fifties. Outdoor enthusiasts, park rangers and firefighters have a higher risk of contracting Lyme and other tick-borne diseases because of their higher exposure to ticks.




How many states/nations have reported cases of Lyme?


Lyme disease has been found in all 50 US states, in more than 80 other countries and on all continents, even Antarctica.




What percentage of the population does not recover after taking the CDC recommended dose of antibiotics?


20% of Lyme infected people do not recover from the CDC recommended dose of antibiotics and become Chronic Lyme sufferers.




Can you get Lyme and other tick-borne diseases only from an infected tick?


Lyme disease and co-infections can be transmitted by mosquitoes, fleas, mites, pregnancy, blood transfusions, sexual intercourse and breast milk, in addition to infected ticks.




How many people a year are diagnosed with Lyme Disease in the US?


The CDC has revised its estimates to 476,000 Americans that are diagnosed with Lyme disease in the US every year. This is based on insurance claims. The estimate is still too low since the military and uninsured United States citizens are not included.




What is a tick-borne disease?


Tick-borne diseases are caused by infectious agents transmitted by tick bites. Tick-borne illnesses are caused by infection with a variety of pathogens.




What do ticks feed on?


Ticks feed on blood from any host.




What are co-infections?


"Co-infections" is not the correct term since it implies that Lyme disease is needed to co-exist with other tick-borne illnesses which is not accurate. You can have any of the following infections without Lyme Disease. These are additional "tick-borne pathogens" that are carried or acquired together by ticks along with Lyme disease. The most common tick-borne diseases in the United States include Lyme disease, Babesiosis, Bartonella, Tick Paralysis, Powassan Fever, Anaplasmosis, ALpha-Gal Syndrome (Meat Allergy Disease), Ehrlichiosis, Relapsing Fever, Tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF).