Medical Q&As

Lyme disease - what is it?

I think that I may have a condition called Lyme disease. Can you give me any information on this condition please?

Lyme disease is named after the town of Lyme in Connecticut USA in which the disease was first described as recently as 1975. It is also described as “tick borne borreliosis”, which means that a tick acts as a vector of the disease and the actual bacterium carried by the tick is of the borrelia species. The tick infests deer and transfers the bacteria from the deer to humans by attaching itself to human skin. Deer ticks are usually found in wooded areas and shady grasslands, which are favourite haunts of wild deer. Given the low level of forestation and the small number of wild deer Lyme disease is not a significant public health problem in Ireland. However, it is endemic in heavily forested parts of Europe and is a significant public health issue in the northeastern portion of the USA. In the early stages of Lyme disease the patient appears to have a flu-like illness accompanied by a rash. The rash looks like a bull’s eye, which means that it consists of a red ring surrounding a clear area with a red centre. Some sufferers subsequently develop acute arthritis. Lyme disease may also cause cardiac, neurological, liver and eye complications. Further information on this subject is available at: http://www.lymealliance.org/