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Frequently Asked Questions About Lyme Disease

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  • The ticks that carry Lyme disease produce bite marks that look like any other normal tick bites
  • It’s possible to get Lyme disease again after getting rid of the disease-causing bacteria from your system due to a previous infection

Q: How do you get Lyme disease?

A: Lyme disease is mainly caused by tick bites. If you’re from the northeastern, mid-Atlantic and north-central parts of the U.S., blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis), also known as deer ticks, are the main sources of this disease. On the Pacific coast, the western blacklegged tick (Ixodes pacificus) primarily spreads this infection. These ticks are normally found in grassy and wooded areas.1,2

Most patients acquire the infection through the bite of nymphs, which are immature ticks that are only 2 millimeters in length. They can attach to any part of your body and usually take 36 to 48 hours to transfer the bacteria to your system.3

Q: What does a Lyme disease bite look like?

A: The ticks that carry Lyme disease produce bite marks that look like any other normal tick bites. The bites are usually painless and you might not even notice them until the symptoms have developed. The earliest signs of tick bites are usually itching, burning and a red spot on the affected area. In rare cases, localized intense pain in the bite areas may develop.4

Q: How long does Lyme disease last?

A: The duration of Lyme disease depends on how quickly the symptoms can be treated. In stage 2 Lyme disease, for example, the rashes usually clear within a few weeks if properly treated.5 If left untreated, the symptoms may come and go indefinitely, eventually resulting in stage 3 Lyme disease, which can produce health complications such as arthritis, severe fatigue, memory problems and pericarditis. Some of these changes tend to be permanent.6

Q: What are the side effects of Lyme disease?

A: Due to the difficulty of detecting a Lyme disease promptly, complications can develop depending on how your body reacts to the infection. These include:7

Facial paralysis

Vision problems

Sleeping problems

Chronic joint inflammation

Reduced cognitive performance

Heart rhythm irregularities

Q: Can Lyme disease be sexually transmitted?

A: Currently, there is no strong scientific evidence to prove that Lyme disease can be transmitted through sexual contact.8

Q: Can Lyme disease affect pregnancy?

A: According to an analysis published in the journal PLoS One, gestational Lyme disease can cause spontaneous miscarriage, newborn death and abnormal conditions at birth. In one of the reports analyzed, the B. burgdorferi bacteria was also detected in the child, which provides some evidence for vertical transmission of the Lyme disease-causing bacteria in the womb.9

Q: Can you get Lyme disease twice?

A: It’s possible to get Lyme disease again after getting rid of the disease-causing bacteria from your system due to a previous infection. You can get it from another tick bite, requiring you to undergo another round of treatment. If you develop symptoms of Lyme disease again, have yourself checked by a doctor. The symptoms may be from an entirely different disease, or the original treatment was only partially successful.10

Q: Can Lyme disease be fatal?

A: Lyme disease is generally not fatal if treated properly. If left untreated, it can lead to life-threatening complications.11,12 For example, pericarditis can cause your heart to malfunction. It can lead to cardiac tamponade, wherein your heart becomes compressed due to a buildup of fluid around it. Abscesses may develop as well, which need to be drained right away.13

MORE ABOUT LYME DISEASE

Lyme Disease: Introduction

What Is Lyme Disease?

Is Lyme Disease Contagious?

Lyme Disease Causes

Lyme Disease Stages

Lyme Disease Symptoms

Lyme Disease Treatment

Lyme Disease Prevention

Lyme Disease Test

Lyme Disease Diet

Lyme Disease FAQ

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