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Ninfa Pea-Purcell, PhD, CHES

Presentation Objectives

Define Lyme disease. Describe what causes Lyme disease. Describe symptoms and signs of Lyme disease. Discuss ways to protect against Lyme disease.

What is Lyme disease?

Most common tick/insect-borne disease in the U.S. A disease that can cause skin, joint, heart and nervous system problems. Lyme disease can affect people of all ages. Named after the town of Lyme, Connecticut where it was first described in 1976.

What causes Lyme disease?

Caused by a specialized type of bacteria called spirochete. Transmitted by the bite of an infected tick or flea. Other insects that feed on animal blood may be involved.

Ticks that cause Lyme disease

Black-legged (or deer) tick: Transmits Lyme disease to humans. Found in northcentral and northeastern U.S. Lone star tick: Found in Texas and has been know to transmit Lyme disease. Rocky Mountain tick: Can transmit Lyme disease as well as Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Ticks that cause Lyme disease

Black-legged Tick

Lone Star Tick

Rocky Mountain Tick

Lyme Disease: Signs and Symptoms

Two stages of Lyme disease: Stage 1 (Early stage) 3 to 30 days after bite.

symptoms develop within 7 14 days. Symptoms include fatigue, headache, fever and chills, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and, a non-productive cough. Skin lesion(s) may appear as a small red circular rash around the bite and expand. Secondary skin rashes appear in nearly 80% of individuals with Lyme disease.

Lyme Disease Skin Rash


(Skin rash)

Lyme Disease: Signs and Symptoms

Two stages of Lyme disease: Stage II (Late) May occur weeks or months after the onset of Lyme disease.

headache and neck pain or stiffness. Arthritis will develop in 60% of patients weeks or months after infection (rarely more than 2 years). Fifteen percent of people infected with Lyme disease develop neurological symptoms, including psychiatric problems.

Diagnosing Lyme Disease

Notify a doctor if you become ill after being bitten by a tick. A diagnosis will be made based on clinical signs and symptoms and the results of a blood test.

Preventing Lyme Disease

Take protective measures when outdoors. Wear light-colored clothing so that ticks can be easily seen. Tuck pants into boots or socks. Use a repellant containing DEET. Walk in the center of trails, and avoid contact with high grass and brush at trail edges. Keep pets free of ticks.

How to remove a tick

Use tweezers to grasp the tick at the surface of the skin. If tweezers are not available, use a tissue to protect your fingers. (Exposure to the ticks fluids may lead to transmission of the disease). With a steady motion, pull the tick straight out. After removing tick, disinfect the bite site, and wash hands with soap and water.

Other facts

Lyme disease cannot be transmitted person-to-person. People being treated with antibiotics for Lyme disease should not donate blood. Scientists have found that the Lyme disease bacteria can live in blood stored for donation. You cannot get Lyme disease from eating venison or squirrel meat.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2008). Lyme disease. Retrieved on March 18, 2008 from ncidod/dvbid/lyme/index.htm. Texas Department of State Health Services (2005). Lyme disease. (No. 7-35). Austin, TX: Author. Rawlings, J. (1999). Lyme Disease in Texas. Disease Prevention News 59 (10) 1-4.