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Lyme disease

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Lyme disease is an infectious disease, first observed in and around Lyme, Connecticut in 1977. It is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi[?], which is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected deer ticks.

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Symptoms

Symptoms of Lyme disease include:

The incubation period from infection to the onset of symptoms is usually 1-2 weeks, but can be as long as one month. However, it is possible for an infected person to display no symptoms, or display only one or two symptoms, which can make diagnosis difficult. Left untreated, Lyme disease can cause chronic disability, but is rarely fatal.

Prevention

Lyme disease infection can be prevented by avoiding heavily wooded areas, where ticks may live in the moist, thick underbrush. If such places cannot be avoided, prevention can also be achieved by:

  • applying insect repellent[?] to exposed skin, especially those containing DEET[?]. Permethrin[?] can also be applied to clothing,
  • wearing light-coloured clothing so that ticks can be located easily and removed,
  • wearing long sleeves and pants and tucking pant bottoms into the tops of socks.

In addition, since the tick usually must be attached to the skin for at least 36 hours before the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria is transmitted, removing the tick immediately when found may prevent infection.

Treatment

Treatment of Lyme disease usually consists of a course of antibiotics.

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