Lyme Disease FAQs
In the United States, Lyme disease is mostly localized to states in the
northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and upper north-central regions, and to several
counties in Northwestern California. In 1999, 16,273 cases of Lyme disease were
reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Ninety-two
percent of these were from the states of Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York,
Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and
Following are frequently asked questions about Lyme disease:
Question: How do people get Lyme disease?
Answer: By the bite of ticks infected with Lyme
disease bacteria. (Deer tick)
Question: What is the basic transmission cycle?
Answer: Immature ticks become infected by
feeding on small rodents, such as the white-footed mouse, and other mammals that
are infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. In later stages, these
ticks then transmit the Lyme disease bacterium to humans and other mammals
during the feeding process. Lyme disease bacteria are maintained in the blood
systems and tissues of small rodents.
Question: Could you get Lyme disease from another person?
Answer: No, Lyme disease
bacteria are NOT transmitted from person-to-person. For example, you cannot get
infected from touching or kissing a person who has Lyme disease, or from a
health care worker who has treated someone with the disease, or by sexual
Question: What are the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease?
Answer: Within days to weeks
following a tick bite, 80% of patients will have a red, slowly expanding
"bull's-eye" rash (called erythema migrans), accompanied by general
tiredness, fever, headache, stiff neck, muscle aches, and joint pain. If
untreated, weeks to months later some patients may develop arthritis, including
intermittent episodes of swelling and pain in the large joints; neurologic
abnormalities, such as aseptic meningitis, facial palsy, motor and sensory nerve
inflammation (radiculoneuritis) and inflammation of the brain (encephalitis);
and, rarely, cardiac problems, such as atrioventricular block, acute
inflammation of the tissues surrounding the heart (myopericarditis) or enlarged