2. Can I do anything to protect myself from becoming infected?
Yes. If you are in the woods or garden in tick-infested areas, avoid contact with the soil, leaves, and vegetation. Wear closed shoes, light-colored clothing, and use insect repellant containing DEET. Check your clothing and exposed skin frequently and remove ticks promptly. Animals such as dogs, cats, horses, and cows can also carry the deer tick. Check your pet often, particularly the head, neck, ears, and between the toes. Use a tick repellent prescribed by your veterinarian.
3. How can I recognize the signs if I don't show the rash?
The rash appears in up to 75% of those infected. This rash may be the classic "bull's eye," but may also be blotchy or red and may be confused with poison ivy, spider bites, or ringworm. It may appear between a few days and a few weeks after being bitten and can disappear quickly. If possible, take a picture of the rash to show your doctor, since the rash may be gone before you can get an appointment.
Other symptoms of Lyme disease include fatigue, chills and fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes. Check with your doctor if you have any of these symptoms and cannot explain how you got them.
4. Should I be tested for Lyme disease if I don't have any symptoms?
Testing people who do not have symptoms is not recommended; the tests tend to have a higher incidence of false positives when this is done. This is true even when someone has been bitten by a deer tick or black legged tick. Not every tick bite will result in an infection. Not every tick is infected with Borrelia burgdorferi and even with those that are, it typically takes between 24 and 72 hours from the time a tick attaches to a person for the bacterium to be transmitted. If a tick is promptly removed, then the risk of getting Lyme disease is decreased. Those who have been bitten should talk to their doctor if they develop any symptoms or if they have any concerns.
In about 10-20% of people treated for Lyme disease with the recommended 2-4 week course of antibiotics, symptoms including fatigue and joint and muscle pain linger, sometimes for more than 6 months. This has been given the name Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS). Research is ongoing to better understand the cause of this syndrome. People should be aware that if their symptoms continue after treatment, they should contact their doctor to discuss ways in which to manage these symptoms.
This article was last reviewed on August 9, 2012. | This article was last modified on February 24, 2015.
The review date indicates when the article was last reviewed from beginning to end to ensure that it reflects the most current science. A review may not require any modifications to the article, so the two dates may not always agree.
The modified date indicates that one or more changes were made to the article. Such changes may or may not result from a full review of the article, so the two dates may not always agree.