Lyme disease is a zoonotic disease (infection from animals to humans), caused by the bite of a tick infected by bacteria. This pathology is composed of a clearly inflammatory, multisystemic process, whose identification is achieved by skin lesions that slowly increase in size, which are characterized by having an annular shape, known as chronic erythema migrans, is associated with fever, presents myalgia (muscle pain), in turn arthralgia (joint pain), headache (headache), fatigue and lymphadenopathy (swollen glands).

How is Lyme disease spread?

Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks, the most common being the deer tick or also known as the deer tick. However, it is important to clarify that not all deer ticks are carriers of the bacteria that cause this disease.

These small animals can become infected by ingesting animals that contain this bacterium and in turn transmit it to humans through bites, while remaining attached to the person for at least 36 hours. It should be noted that Lyme disease cannot be transmitted from person to person, and it is rare that it is transferred from the mother to the fetus.

If not treated in time, more than half of patients progressively develop neurological complications, heart, paralysis and chronic rheumatoid arthritis. Lyme disease is also known by the following names: Lyme Borreliosis and Meningopolyneuritis by ticks.

Lyme is more common in the regions of the USA, however, cases have also been known in Europe, Australia and Asia, this pathology can affect people of all age groups, to date there are no data on preference for a specific age group, but a higher incidence is observed between the months of May to November, with a maximum predisposition in June and July, especially in the northeastern and midwestern states of the United States. The risk of infection decreases exponentially after the fourth decade.

Lyme disease etiology

The bacterium that triggers this pathology is known as Burgdorferi spirochete Borrelia, the vector responsible for its transmission is the Ixodes tick, belonging to the genus of dammini pacificus, and Ixodes scapularis. Studies have shown that Lyme disease is caused by the direct action of the infection and the immune response to Borrelia burgdorferi.

This pathology is also known as tick disease or borreliosis. In North America it is caused by the aforementioned bacterium, Borrelia Burgdorferi, while in Europe and Asia, in addition to said bacterium, there are two more varieties that can produce it, and they are Borrelia garinii and Borrelia afzelii.

In North America and Europe, tick disease is the most frequent disease caused by the bite of this animal. Being its time of greatest incidence during the summer.

The first reported case of this chronic skin disease was in 1883. At the beginning of the 20th century, the first texts on neuroborreliosis were made public. Over the years, the name of borreliosis was abandoned, thanks to a series of cases that developed in the town of Lyme in the state of Connecticut in the United States in 1975.

Ticks that carry this bacterium are typically found on wild deer or deer, as well as wild rodents. Dogs that frequent wooded areas can also acquire these small mites, and can even develop the disease. However, the dog is not capable of transmitting Lyme disease, but it is possible that the ticks that it carries change hosts and move to humans.

According to experts, since the 1980s the number of cases of borreliosis has been increasing, which is due to climate change, which in recent times has been drastic, causing the population density of ticks carrying the bacteria to increase. , at the same time that causes their geographical distribution to be much larger. The greater the number of ticks, the greater the probability of being bitten.

There may be thousands of cases of borreliosis that go undiagnosed. Between 2005 and 2014 in the United States there were more than 200,000 registered cases, however, figures indicate that around 300,000 people are diagnosed with tick disease annually. Meanwhile in Europe, registered cases exceed 350 thousand in the last two decades. In Russia, Central Asia, Mexico, Canada and China there are also cases, although in a smaller proportion.

Lyme disease symptoms

After the incubation period (which can be from 3 days to 1 month) an infectious picture may occur with the presence of muscle pain, fever, headache, joint pain and fatigue.

Lyme symptoms can occur both in the initial localized stage and in the disseminated phase of the pathology. The symptoms that usually characterize tick disease can be divided into three stages, which are described below.

Stage 1: early-stage localized infection

In 3 out of 4 patients, what is known as erythema migrans appears, which is a red spot that appears in the area where the tick bit. As the hours go by, this spot expands, acquiring the shape of a halo, with red ends and a slightly lighter center, it usually has a diameter of 5 centimeters, but can reach 20 centimeters in diameter and may be present for several weeks. It usually occurs in the thighs, armpits and English. Apart from this, the erythema may be accompanied by numbness in the area, itching and a sensation of warmth in the affected area.

Stage 2: scattered early infection

  • It can occur a few weeks or even months after the bite occurs, and may be the first manifestation of the pathology. Apart from the non-specific symptomatology, skin lesions may appear, similar to migrating erythema, this through the dissemination of spirochetes through the blood.
  • Neurological disorders: myelitis, radiculoneuritis, lymphocytic meningitis.
  • Pain in the joints and muscles in a migratory way.
  • Cardiac Disorders: Atrioventricular obstruction, myopericarditis.

Stage 3: persistent infection

  • It can appear months or years after the infection, since in its initial phases it was not completely cured.
  • Presence of chronic or transient arthritis in one or more large joints, especially the knees.
  • Typical neurological picture: chronic encephalomyelitis or chronic polyneuropathy.
  • Pain in the limbs, disorders in cognitive capacity, fatigue.

In addition to the Lyme symptoms mentioned above, there is a condition known as “post-Lyme syndrome”, in which different health problems occur, such as extreme tiredness, muscle pain, headache, cognitive alterations, difficulty concentrating, among others, which can occur even if the disease was treated correctly.

Lyme disease treatment

Antibiotics are used, usually the faster the treatment is applied, the faster and more effective reception will be. Antibiotics can be of different types.

  • Intravenous antibiotics: they are generally applicable when the disease affects the central nervous system, they are usually applied for 15 to 30 days. They are effective in eradicating the infection, however, overcoming symptoms may take longer.

    These types of antibiotics can have side effects, including severe or mild diarrhea, low white blood cell levels, infection with other organisms that are resistant to these drugs and are not related to Lyme.

  • Oral antibiotics: it is the most common treatment for this pathology in its initial phase. Doxycycline is generally prescribed for children over 8 years of age and adults, cefuroxime or Amoxicillin is usually prescribed for younger children, as well as for women who are pregnant or who are breastfeeding.

This Lyme treatment is usually administered for a period of between 15 and 20 days, however, there are studies that indicate that cycles of 10 to 15 days have the same effectiveness.

After treatment, it is possible that in a minority percentage, there are still some symptoms such as fatigue and muscle pain, which is known as post-treatment Lyme syndrome and the cause of which is unknown, however in this case, the Treatment with more antibiotics is not effective. According to experts, this is because there are individuals who are more likely to develop an immune response, which contributes to the appearance of symptoms.

Lyme Disease in Dogs


Lyme Borreliosis is one of the most common diseases transmitted by ticks in dogs. The most frequent clinical characteristic is canine lameness when walking, since the joints become inflamed, another symptom can be depression and loss of appetite. Among the most serious complications, heart disorders, kidney disease or pathologies associated with the nervous system can be mentioned.

Regarding lameness, it can be recurrent, however, there are cases in which it is more acute and lasts for 3 or 4 days, appearing again a few weeks later in the same area.

In some cases, kidney problems can occur, which, if not treated correctly, can cause glomerulonephritis, which in turn generates inflammation and dysfunction in the accompanying glomerulonephritis of the kidneys. As kidney failure progresses, the dog will show other symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting, weight loss, increased thirst and amount of urine, fluid accumulation in the abdominal area and in the tissues.

Recommendations to avoid Lyme disease

To avoid the development of Lyme borreliosis, the main thing is to avoid the tick bite in the endemic areas of this disease, especially in summer and spring. Therefore, the use of repellent, high boots, light clothing and gloves are recommended. Likewise, environmental control measures can be implemented, such as cutting the vegetation of areas inhabited by people, using pesticides.

After having been in areas with the presence of Lyme cases, the body should be checked to certify that there are no ticks on it or on clothing, or if there are no bites. If a tick is found, it is important that it be removed correctly, with special tweezers, and then disinfect the area. It is recommended to administer a dose of doxycycline for two days to prevent the disease from developing.

Other tick-borne diseases

Frequently Asked Questions about Lyme

What is lyme disease?

It is known to be the tick disease, a zoonotic condition that is transferred from animals to humans and that can occur from a tick bite through inflammation or fever.

How is lyme disease detected?

The patient presents body pain, inflammation in the bite area, high fever and fatigue. The symptoms can appear the same day of the sting or days later.

Is lyme disease contagious?

It is spread only by the tick bite, not by person-to-person contact, so there is no danger in coming into contact with infected people.

Can my dog ​​give me lyme disease?

Yes, it is actually the most common disease in dogs, so it is necessary that pets have their vaccinations up to date and that they are completely clean to prevent them from having ticks and becoming infected.

Is lyme disease curable?

This disease can be cured with antibiotics only if it is diagnosed early. If you have the disease and do not apply any treatment, liver and heart complications can occur.