What is Borreliosis?

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  • Written By: H. Lo
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2019
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Borreliosis is a medical condition also known as Lyme disease. The cause of this disease is an infection with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Human beings contract the condition when they are bit by certain types of ticks that carry the disease. These ticks initially become infected with borreliosis when they feed on animals, such as birds, deer or mice, that carry the bacterium. The longer a tick is attached to, and feeds on, a person, the better the chances of it spreading the disease.

The main sign or symptom of borreliosis is a red, circular-shaped rash which usually shows up where the bite took place. As this rash grows larger, it might start to look like a bulls-eye; this is because the center becomes clear and contrasts with the rest of the rash. Other symptoms of the disease include those resembling the flu, such as chills, fatigue and fever. Additional and more severe symptoms to watch out for are Bell’s palsy, joint pain and stiff neck.


There are several ways a doctor might diagnose borreliosis. The bulls-eye rash is a good indicator of the disease, but not everybody who gets bit will develop a rash. Diagnosis depends on the affected person’s symptoms, as well as the possibility that the person was in an area where he might have been exposed to ticks. Some tests that the doctor might use to diagnose and confirm borreliosis are a blood test, an enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA) test and a Western blot test.

Borreliosis is treated with antibiotics, and many people who receive early diagnosis and treatment fully recover from the disease. In some cases, an infected person who receives treatment will continue to have symptoms that do not respond to antibiotics. The cause of this lingering condition is unknown. Without treatment, borreliosis can cause complications such as problems with memory, sleep and vision. In addition, an infected person might experience chronic joint inflammation, nerve damage and paralysis of the muscles of the face.

A person can take precautions to protect himself against borreliosis, or tick bites altogether. Ticks live in grassy or wooded environments; avoiding these areas is one way to reduce the risk of contracting the disease. If avoidance is not feasible, a person can wear insect repellent and proper clothing. In addition, after spending time in these areas, a person should check his body and clothes for ticks and, if he finds any, he should remove them.



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