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Lyme Disease: Introduction

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Lyme Disease

Lyme is multi-systemic disease caused by a infections with a spirochetal bacteria in humans, pets and other animals in the US and worldwide. Lyme disease is caused many species of Borrelia including: Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia mayonii, Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii. Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii are the primary strains that cause Lyme disease in the United States, while Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii are the leading causes of Lyme disease in Europe and Asia. The most common tick-borne illness in these regions, Lyme disease is transmitted primarily by the bite of an infected black-legged tick, commonly known as a deer tick. Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States. In 2018, Lyme was in the top 6 most commonly reported nationally notifiable diseases.

How many people get Lyme disease? The CDC estimates that nearly 500,000 people get diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease annually~2024

Many small mammals, birds and other wildlife act as reservoir hosts for these bacteria. Borrelia infections are then transmitted by the bite of a tick to other animals and humans. Lyme can be a debilitating or even deadly illness if not diagnosed and treated early in the disease process. Preventing tick bites is the best way to avoid this infection but, when prevention measures fail, early recognition of the signs and symptoms of disease, as well as access to accurate diagnosis and adequate treatment is critical to the best outcome.