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What is the Cause of Lyme Disease?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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The primary cause of Lyme disease is the bite of a deer tick, which often carries an infectious strain called Borrelia burgdorferi. A bite from a deer tick that carries the disease can lead to an infection in humans and in pets, though if caught early enough, the tick may not have ample time to transfer the disease. The cause of Lyme disease was discovered in stages, and it is named for Lyme, Connecticut, where several cases of the disease broke out in the 1970s. Symptoms of the disease include fatigue, depression, fever, severe headaches, and a rash around the area of the bite.

In a broader sense, the cause of Lyme disease can be attributed to a large deer population in the United States and Europe, combined with suburban expansion into what used to be wooded areas. Deer ticks live on deer as adults because deer have ample blood supplies on which the deer tick can feed, thereby allowing the tick to lay its eggs. The presence of deer in neighborhoods and other areas populated by humans and pets means more transfer of deer ticks into homes. Children and people who spend significant amounts of time in the outdoors are particularly at risk for contracting Lyme disease.

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No other cause of Lyme disease exists. It cannot be transferred from human to human or from pet to human, and it is not transferable through bodily fluids or from bites from other insects. Deer ticks are the only cause of Lyme disease known today, and many people do not even realize they have been infected since the deer tick is so small at the time of infection. When an infected deer tick bites a human or animal, a bull's eye-shaped rash will form around the bite, and the infected person will begin to exhibit other signs of infection immediately.

Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics and the impacts of the disease can be minimal if discovered early enough. Children and the elderly suffer the worst consequences of the disease, and some people experience recurring symptoms long after the antibiotic treatment has been administered. To prevent the spread of Lyme disease, many communities have begun controlling deer population, as well as rodent population, since the deer tick will live on small rodents during the early stages of its life. Other ways to prevent Lyme disease include checking pets carefully before they are allowed to enter the house, and wearing light-colored clothing, which makes identifying the tiny ticks much easier.

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