(Black-legged tickordeer tick,
Dermacentor (Dog or wood tick
left side of photo)
(Lone Star tick)
Notice the white spot on the
back of the female Lone star.
chipmunks, etc. They do not fly, hop
or jump. They wait in leaf litter, logs,
or the tips of tall grass for a passing
warm body to crawl onto.
(see tick on mouse ear)
|Lyme Disease Facts -
What is it and where did it come from?
Definition of Lyme Disease - Lyme disease is a bacterial
infection caused by the cork-screw shaped bacterium, Borrelia
burgdorferi, and is primarily transmitted through the bite of an
How the disease is spread - Small mammals such as the
mice, voles, chipmunks, and large mammals such as the white
tailed deer are hosts to the Ixodes scapularis (black-legged tick)
and Lone star tick. Over 49 species of migrating birds have
been found to carry these ticks.
Borrelia strains - Since 1982 over 100 U.S. and 300 worldwide
strains of the bacterium have been discovered.
Borrelia Burgdorferi - The causative agent, Borrelia burgdorferi,
is a type of spirocheteal bacteria. Other spirochetes include the
causative agents of syphilis, and relapsing fever. Spirochetes
are long, thin, spiral-shaped bacteria. About 100,000 of Bb laid
side to side would equal one inch. The bacterium is able to
move around the body through the bloodstream and between
tissue. It can also invade tissue, replicate, and leave the cell -
destroying the cell as it emerges. Sometimes, as the bacterium
emerges, the cell wall collapses around the bacterium, forming
a "cloaking device". This action may aid the bacteria's ability to
hide from the immune system response. The bacteria can also
change into a spheroplast or L form as well as a cyst stage,
thus unaffected by common antibiotics. Many Lyme patients
have co-infections with babesia, ehrlichia, and/or HHV-6, a
herpes virus, which makes treatment much more challenging.
Lyme disease history - It is a popular misconception that Lyme
disease was discovered in the late 1970's in Lyme,
Connecticut, but 100+ year old laboratory mice specimens have
been found infected with this bacterium.
In the early 1980's, an entomologist at the U.S. Rocky Mountain
Lab., of the National Institutes of Health by the name of Willy
Burgdorfer, MD, Ph.D., was investigating outbreaks of Rocky
Mountain spotted fever. He undertook a very close inspection of
the tick--and found poorly stained, sluggish spirochetes. Within
a year, the spirochetes had been named Borrelia burgdorferi
(Bb), in his honor, and definitely identified as the causative
agent of Lyme disease.
|Ticks - Behavior, Life Cycle and Habitat
Rash - Lyme disease is called the Great Imitator because it can
mimic many other diseases, such as MS, Fibromyalgia, Chronic
Fatigue, and Rheumatoid Arthritis, which makes diagnosis
difficult. A rash can appear several days after infection, or not at
sore throat, swollen glands, flu like aches, stiff neck, light
|Diagnosis, Laboratory Tests and Treatment
Diagnosis - There is no test that can determine if a patient is
infected with the LD bacterium and then demonstrates that the
patient has become bacterium-free. Therefore, LD is a clinical
diagnosis, based on signs and symptoms, with the patients
travel history to endemic areas and test results being additional
pieces of information in the complete picture. No test can "rule-
out" Lyme disease.
Laboratory tests - see Tests and Treatment page for more
Treatment - Antimicrobial therapy is the foundation of Lyme
disease management. Oral therapy with doxycycline or
amoxicillin is appropriate for cases of early Lyme disease
without neurologic involvement. Parenteral therapy with
ceftriaxone should be reserved for patients with neurologic
involvement, severe arthritis, or any life-threatening
manifestation of Lyme disease such as complete heart block.
Controversy surrounds the issue of patients with persisting
signs and symptoms of the disease that results in chronic
neurologic or rheumatologic disability. Several explanations
have been proposed for residual symptoms in some patients:
continued infection, immunologic disease, permanent tissue
damage resulting from the initial infection, or coinfection with
another tick-borne pathogen. Oral antimicrobial therapy is
effective and appropriate for most patients. Intravenous therapy
is reserved for more serious disseminated cases.
For more information, see our Tests and Treatment page.
|Protection and Prevention
Protection and prevention - The use of sprays is a personal
decision so you must know the facts. Products that contain
DEET are tick repellents. They do not kill the tick and are not
100% effective in discouraging a tick from feeding on you.
Products like Permanone contain premethrin, and are known to
kill ticks. However, they are not to be sprayed on the skin.
Permanone can be sprayed on clothing. Once it is dry it is
assumed to be safe. Ticks are anti-gravitational. They are
generally seeking the highest point. If they get on your body
below the clothes line, one hopes they will travel up and die
once they come in contact with treated clothing. Note: If the tick
meets resistance on its journey to the top of your head it will
stop and feed at that point. If you are wearing shorts and the tick
gets stuck in the bend behind your knee the Permanone will not
Vaccine SmithKline Beecham created a Lyme vaccine in
2001. But, lawsuits were filed which stated it caused arthritis
and other autoimmune disorders. Due to these complaints and
lack of public interest pulled it off the market in March, 2002.
Property protection - Consult with a professional about using
insecticides on your property to kill ticks. Eliminate tall grass
especially near a forest edge on your property. Provide a stone
barrier between tick habitat and your yard.
Pets and other animal protection - Lyme disease has been
diagnosed in humans, dogs, cats, horses, goats, and cattle.
Other species may also be at risk. Lyme disease can affect
individual pets differently. Some animals may display no
symptoms. Other animals may develop fever, loss of appetite,
painful joints, lethargy, and vomiting. If left untreated, the
spirochete may damage the eyes, heart, kidneys, and nervous
system. Cats may show lameness, fever, loss of appetite,
fatigue, eye damage, unusual breathing, or heart involvement.
Many infected cats do not show noticeable symptoms.Infected
dogs may be lethargic, have a poor/loss of appetite, or a fever.
Dogs may also experience lameness shifting from one joint to
another, fatigue, kidney damage or failure, heart disorders, or
neurologic involvement (e.g. aggression, confusion, overeating,
and seizures). Dogs can be infected with the Lyme bacterium
but not exhibit any noticeable symptoms. Dogs appear to have
the same expression of disease as humans; therefore,
humans have been considered an animal model for dogs.
Transplacental transmission has occurred in dogs.
Treat pets with proper repellents. Do a thorough tick check on
your pet before it comes indoors. Save the tick in the refrigerator
in a sealed container. Keep infected animals away from
children to reduce chance of their exposure through saliva,
Copyright © 2007 - 2023 Iowa Lyme Disease Association (ILDA).
All Rights Reserved.
|Rash and Other Early Symptoms
|LYME DISEASE AND TICK FACTS
|Iowa Lyme Disease Association-
P.O. Box 221
Brighton, IA 52540
Email: [email protected]
|(left to right)
Dog or Wood Tick
Lone Star Tick