A ‘typical’ case of Lyme disease looks like this: a person in an area populated by the Ixodes scapularis tick gets bitten and picks up a spiral-shaped Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium from the bite. Most people will then develop a target-shaped rash around the bite – known as Erythema migrans – which usually appears within a week, but can take up to a month to materialise. More than 300,000 new cases are reported in the US each year, with a further 65,000 cropping up in Europe.

The bite is often accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as fever, headaches, muscle pain and fatigue. Some patients may not develop or notice a rash, only visiting a doctor when they begin to feel physically unwell, and end up having the infection confirmed by a blood test instead. If the symptoms are ignored the illness can progress to cause more serious neurologic and arthritic problems, known as late disseminated Lyme disease, but even then 30 days of doxycycline should be able to clear things up. (See link for article)

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Microbiologist Tom Grier’s Letter to the Editor: