Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, is transmitted to people through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks.
Symptoms and Treatment
Common symptoms include fever, headaches, fatigue and a characteristic round or oval skin rash. If left untreated, the infection can spread to points beyond the tick bite site, including multiple skin rashes, joints, the heart and the nervous system.
In most cases, antibiotics are very effective in the initial stage of Lyme disease. The infection is usually resolved over a two-to-four-week course of antibiotics. This is not the case for people with ongoing symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog or musculoskeletal pains after an initial course of antibiotics. While the mechanisms driving these patients’ problems are unclear, the problems do not appear to respond to additional antibiotics. While some may experience short-term relief from antibiotics, carefully performed clinical trials do not find the rates of improvement better than placebo. Therefore, additional antibiotics do not have a role for people with post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome or problems labeled as chronic Lyme disease.
Using repellents such as DEET or permethrins, inspecting for ticks with prompt removal and bathing after exposure to potential tick habitats (grassy, brushy or wooded areas) are steps that can help prevent Lyme disease.
IDSA engages in advocacy efforts that support better Lyme disease diagnosis, treatment, prevention and public education. IDSA has worked with the American Academy of Neurology and the American College of Rheumatology to develop evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for preventing, diagnosing and treating Lyme disease.
Useful Information and Resources
For the Public
- Clinical Practice Guidelines From IDSA, the American Academy of Neurology and the American College of Rheumatology for the Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment of Lyme Disease
- CDC: For Health Care Providers
Public Policy, Advocacy and Action
- IDSA Comments to Tick-Borne Disease Working Group (April 15, 2022)
- IDSA Comments to Tick-Borne Disease Working Group (Feb. 16, 2022)