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Lyme Disease

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Lyme disease occurs in stages, starting with early localized Lyme disease and progressing to early disseminated and then to late or chronic Lyme disease. The first symptom is usually a rash that appears a few days to a month after the bite. Up to 75% of those infected with Borrelia burgdorferi will develop the characteristic circular rash called erythema migrans. It typically grows outward from the bite site and lasts for several weeks. The rash may reach several inches in diameter and begin to look like a "bulls-eye." Some people may develop multiple red rashes and others may not have, or remember having, a rash.

Characteristic rash of Lyme diseaseAs the infection progresses, those affected may experience flu-like symptoms that include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Fever and chills

If left untreated, additional symptoms may emerge after several weeks to months, including:

  • Muscle and joint pain (may be intermittent)
  • Facial weakness and paralysis (Bell's palsy)
  • Numbness and pain in arms and legs
  • Meningitis, with neck stiffness and severe headaches
  • Chest pain and heart rate abnormalities (rare)
  • Eye irritation, redness, pain, and blurred vision (rare)

With late or chronic Lyme disease, people may experience:

  • Intermittent arthritis, especially in the knees
  • Muscle pain and weakness
  • Memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and changes in sleep patterns

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